The Importance of #tweeleading
May 7, 2013
A Picture Says a Thousand Words
May 10, 2013

Online ≠ Free

By Rachel Anderson

Photos can significantly enhance reader experience by increasing understanding, interest, or the visual appeal of a page, article, blog etc. Improper use of images however, like using photos illegally, can result in hundreds or thousands of dollars in fines- definitely not a pretty picture.

Images From Google Search Are Free, Right?

Nope! Just because it’s online and doesn’t have copyright law written all over it does not make it free. It’s important to know that many images you find through a regular old Google search or pull from a random blog actually belong to someone. Often these
Copyrightedimageimages belong to a large photo service.

Businesses like Getty Images and Shutterstock allow you to search through millions of photos, choose ones you like, and then pay to use the photos. Be sure to have permission to use any images belonging to stock photo sites; they will hunt you down and make you pay!

Recent technology makes it possible for copyright owners to comb the Internet and find unlicensed images. Even photos that have been revised, Photoshopped, or even cropped down to a slice of what they were can be identified. Basically, just don’t use photos illegally.


So What Are My Options?

First you have to ask yourself this:

Do I want to pay for use? Or do I want to find photos to use for free?


Paid Use

Photos with licenses you need to pay for come in two types or categories. The type of image/images you choose determines how you pay to use them. There are two types of stock images: royalty-free and rights-managed.

Royalty-free: Royalty-free images are almost unlimited use. You purchase the license and as long as you comply with the terms of the licensed agreement, you are free to use the photo in as many projects or on as many sites or applications as you would like.

Rights-managed: Rights-managed images are more restrictive. You pay to use the image for a determined amount of time. The amount of time (usually months or years), the geographic location, the industry and several other factors restricting the use of the image are limited by the license.


Public Domain Images

Photos in this category are free to use. However, it’s important to understand that these images are not copyright-free. All images have copyright automatically granted to the owner. The difference here is that these owners have specifically given permission for the image to be used for free.

The quality of this type of photo may be lower than what you get from paid sources but since they’re free, you can always try it out to see if it works for you before going and paying for one!

Some public domain images sources include, Flickr, and


Creative Commons Images

Images with a Creative Commons license also fall under the public domain. The Creative Commons license allows for the distribution of copyrighted works. This means that when an image has a Creative Commons license, the author has given permission for their original work to be shared, used and even added to. Under a Creative Commons license, people are protected from copyright infringement as long as they adhere to the guidelines issued by the author.



Are You Using Photos For Your Job?

Many companies subscribe to photo databases that allow them to use any image in the system for a yearly fee. If you need photos for work-related assignments be sure to ask your employer if they have access to an image library.


Businesses May Have Their Own Photo Gallery

It’s not uncommon for companies to take photos of their building, products, employees, customers, etc., to use on their website, in their newsletters or just for good record keeping.  Take advantage of this resource if it’s available. If it isn’t, why not be the one to start it up?


Take Your Own Photos!

Sometimes you just won’t find the image you’re looking for and when this happens, what’s wrong with taking one yourself? Who
Take-Your-Own-Photos knows your needs better than you? This option has a few great advantages. You’re guaranteed to get the exact photo you need and it’s FREE! (not to mention pretty fun if you’re into doing things yourself and/or photography) Who knows? You could end up starting your own photo database!



Rachel Anderson is a Pay Per Click Advertising Strategist at Off the job she enjoys photography, good food, being outside, and spending time with her husband. Share your thoughts with Rachel on Twitter @gladygirl, Google+ or Facebook- she’d love to hear from you!