Many years ago I was fined over $1000 for having a ‘copyright’ image on my website.
It was a long time ago now and I was actually able to throw it back to the company that built my website (very grey area, not sure how we got away with that!), but it was pretty scary at the time as a small business without much spare cash on hand!
So let me start this post by telling you what it’s not.
I am not a solicitor / lawyer. In fact I have never had any kind of legal training in my life. Therefore I am not about to try to extol the ins and outs of copyright laws to you.
Here are a couple of great articles which will give you a greater understanding of what you should and shouldn’t be doing legally with images online.
Copyright Law on the Internet is a Total Train Wreck Right Now – Hubspot (Also comes with 160 free images! Thanks Hubspot.
It’s simply a list of image sites split into Free Stock Images & Paid Stock Images, that you can use as a reference guide at anytime to ensure you’re getting your images from reputable sites with very specific (and easy to understand) licensing info, so that you know you’re on the right side of the law!
Just remember this. If you’re ever in doubt about the use of an image then it’s best to either not use it or get advice from someone qualified in the law of the land!
Free Stock Image Websites
Now don’t mix up the term ‘copyright free’ with a free (ie, no cost) image site. Many ‘copyright free’ websites are actually paid images.
Here are a few websites that provide either free images or a free trial where you have a window of time to gather a certain amount of free images.
This site is an absolute find!
Super easy to use, simply add a search term and up pops a page full of great images. Click on the image of your choice and a big download button will pop up, as will a paragraph stating what you can and can’t do with the image.
Most of the photos say –
You are allowed to copy, distribute, transmit the work and to adapt the work. Attribution is not required. You are prohibited from using this work in a stand alone manner.
When I read that I though, what on earth does ‘You are prohibited from using this work in a stand alone manner’ mean?
This is what MorgueFile have to say –
The morguefile license is specifically for designers and illustrators to use the images in a creative process creating work of their own. If you would like to use the image in a blog post, we recommend contacting the photographer and providing a by line under the photo with the photographer’s name. This is generally agreed to be acceptable.
So in other words, just alter it a bit (add a frame, some text, a filter etc) or get permission to give attribution (which to be fair is good practice anyway).
Free Digital Photos
Another site with a plethora of images, however this one isn’t quite as easy to use as Morgue File. The sizes of the free images are all 400 x 274 and you must give attribution.
To download the free image you have to agree to the terms of service, fill out a captcha form and then download so it’s not rocket science just a few more clicks.
If you want a bigger image or would rather not give attribution then you have to pay.
Flickr is a fab site. Just type in your keyword, choose ‘Creative Commons’ at the top of the screen, select your image and click on the button under the image to see the licensing terms.
For most of them it will be to ensure you give relevant attribution to the creator.
Then you just click download and select the size you want. Easy peasy!
Another way to search for Flickr images is through a site called PhotoPin
They use the Flickr API to find images and make it super easy for you to provide attribution by giving you the relevant html code to place on your site.
Unsplash – Free (do whatever you want) hi-resolution photos
This site is a bit tough to work your way around and you can’t seem to search by keyword, but wowee are the pics high quality!
Amazing photos! Well worth checking out, no attribution required.
Another beautifully easy to use site. Just type in your keyword and download your photo!
Beware though, you may not use ANY of the photos on this site for commercial use. Other than that though you have the most amazing choice of fantastic images!
Another absolute beauty! You’re never going to need a pay for site again after looking at some of these resources!
Phenomenal. Just type in your keyword and download the size you want. All pics on this site fall under Creative Commons Deed CC0
Which basically means
You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.
Last but not least on my free list.
Public Domain Pictures
Just find the image you want, right click and save as. Bob’s Your Uncle. Check the license requirements under the pics though. Most want you to link back to the page.
Also if you want to use the image commercially different rules apply.
Alrighty! That’s my little list of FREE image sites and what a list it is.
Just make sure when looking at any of these sites, do your own due diligence. Check out the terms for each site so you’re going in with your eyes wide open.
Then download, use, amend, share, and have FUN!
Now even though that’s a fab list of free sites, there may be times that you will want to use images from a paid stick site, maybe you just can’t find what you need on the free sites. So here’s some great resources for you.
Paid Stock Image Websites
To be honest they’re all much of a muchness. You can purchase packages or buy images on demand. Packages will always work out cheaper, but do require an upfront cost.
Here are a list of my favourites.
GraphicStock – Free for the first 7 days, then becomes a monthly subscription.
So there you have it. A pretty comprehensive list of free & paid options for you. You never need to be without an image source again!
In the meantime, get downloading! An image says 1000 words, so where you can, say it with a pic!
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