Monday, November 14, 2011

Photo Usage Legalities for Bloggers

For the longest time, I refused to post any photos here that had not been taken by myself. Then I decided that if I did a proper source attribution it must be fine, right? Wrong. In looking at the issue again, I've discovered that, without proper written consent from the owner of an image, even proper attribution will not protect me if someone decides they didn't want me to use their images. Which, of course, would be well within their rights.

Written consent is not required in cases where the photos are clearly labeled as public domain, such as if they mention a Creative Commons license. More information can be found at I've linked you to the FAQ page.

Since I don't want to merely be bursting people's bubbles, I thought I'd pass along a few sites that have free stock photos. You can also find sites that charge a small amount, if you would prefer going that route. You will typically find better photos there. However, I've used some of these sites for good, useful photos, as well. Here are the free sites I know of: (Which also has pay photos; be sure to read the requirements for photo usage from the site) (You must create an account, but it is free of charge)

You may also have luck by searching for "public domain images," "free digital images," "creative commons photos," or something similar. I have not yet used all of the above sites, but have come across them in searching for photos in the past.

I intend to go back through my posts this week and remove any images I used without first attaining permission or that I didn't get from a free stock photo site. I figure better safe than sorry.

Do you know of any other free photo sites, especially ones you have used personally? Any input on the photo rules for bloggers?

May you find your Muse.


  1. Almost every photo posted on my blog is mine, and for that reason. I'm a professional photographer by trade. And I've had my images stolen and sold for a profit online, which is even worse.

  2. Thanks for the info, I'll be more careful going forward:) I'll definitely utilize these public sites too:)

  3. Using other's work without permission is just too easy to do with the internet. I'm glad for those like you who are careful in this area. Wish everyone was.

  4. One of the reasons I use my own pics.
    By the way you forgot to mention "Dreamstime" (they have paid as well as free pics)
    Then there is "Flickr" with Creative Common.

  5. Thanks for the great links. I worry about this, but I thought if you mess up and get notified of misuse, you get a certain amount of time to "cease and desist" you use of the image in question. Is that not true?

  6. This is some great information to have. Pictures are supposed to "liven up" blogs, but like you say, unless they're given as free, it's stealing. Sometimes it's hard to tell what's right and wrong on the internet.

  7. Thank you! I use my own photos or borrow from my daughter. I do search if I can't find what I need .. sometimes I am score, but mostly I don't want to take the chance if the photo isn't clearly marked - free ( or whatever ). Thanks again, for this info.

  8. I just don't bother with photos much.
    However, it would be hard for someone to, say, sue you for using one of their images if you weren't making a profit from it. Not that that makes it okay for you to do it, because it doesn't.
    Just sayin', though.

  9. Great advice. Taking all my misused pics down. Thanks!

  10. I use pictures all the time, so this is very good information. Thanks, Shannon. :)

  11. I can't remember the websites I use, but I always look for public domain pictures.

    Sometimes I host other authors and they send pics my way. Now I'm wondering where they got them.

  12. L. Diane, that's terrible! Were you able to go after them in any way?

    Mark, me, too!

    Karen, yes, it's hard to know the rules online sometimes.

    Haddock, thanks for those two sites!

    Katie, that's a good question and one I don't know the answer to.

    JE, it can certainly be hard to know what's free and available and what isn't.

    Brenda, I hope you find the sites useful!

    Andrew, very true. I want to avoid bad blood, if at all possible, too. I wouldn't want to wrong someone without having tried (darn it, if I wrong someone, it should be intentional!)

    Julie, I still need to do it!

    Alyssia, glad it is helpful!

    Medeia, good point there, too. You never know, and I doubt any are doing anything wrong willfully.

  13. Thanks for the info! It's confusing on what is legal to post or not. I'm also going to go through my blog and make sure I get all my images from one of the sites you listed just to be safe.

  14. Crystal, it is confusing. Even having posted this, different questions were raised. I figure better safe than sorry.