If a photograph is marked as copyright or has a © notation on it, that means that you definitely need permission to use that photograph, especially if you want to put it on your website. Tracking down the photographers or artists can be a little tricky at times, but it is possible to do with a Google image search (GIS) or TinEye search. These plugins allow you to right click on a photo and then search the internet for the photo. I’ve found that GIS does a better job of searching than TinEye, but on occasion, TinEye will find something that GIS does not. From there, you can figure out if the author of the work has granted permission for it to be used on the web or if you will need to message them to gain permission.
Almost all of the photos on my website are my own; I’m blessed to have a great archive of photos I’ve accumulated over the years. I will grant permission for individuals to use photos on occasion, but as I have a photography business, I generally don’t give away my photos. It’s part of my income. On the other hand, I willingly share my inspirational memes which I’ve created for public dissemination. They are marked as copyright, but my Flickr page, Facebook page, and Pinterest page clearly note that they may be shared without altering, adapting, or changing them in any way.
The photos on my website which aren’t mine are marked as creative commons. Creative commons (cc) is a licensing system that allows photographers and artists to designate how their works may be reproduced. I only use creative commons photos which are allowed to be adapted in making my inspirational mantras. I haven’t used any public domain photos on my website yet, but there is a chance I will do that eventually.
In order to find photos which are ok to use for websites and are free, there are two easy search options: Google and Flickr. On Google images, you can do an advanced search for whatever you are looking for and under the last option of “usage rights” mark what you are looking for. Aside from that direct link above to advanced search, the link can be found on the top of the far right of the website under the control options which look like an illustration of a gear.
To find images that are creative commons or public domain on Flickr, search for whatever you want in the search box. When you get to the page of results, then pick the third option along the top of the screen for “license.” From there you can select from different creative commons types.
Another great resource is Free Range Stock a website that has free membership (registration required) and which allows users to download and use free photos and textures that are not under copyright. [Update 7/14/15: Can Stock Photo has asked that I also share them as a resource for free and low price photography.]
It’s easy to find free and legal photos to use on the web, so there’s no reason to steal pictures from photographers and deny their right to be paid for their work. If you need an even bigger database of photos than are available from creative commons licensing or public domain photos, you can always subscribe to iStock, Getty Images, or one of the many other online stock photography sites for relatively cheaply. This also means you will be helping financially support photographers for their work. Artists, just like everyone else, deserve to be paid for their labor.
© 2014 Green Heart Guidance