Do you ever wonder whether or not you are allowed to use the images that you insert into your blog posts? I hate to break it to you, but I bet that the majority of pictures you have ever used are considered to be stolen. On the plus side, I am not connected to the local police authority to report you so you’re in the clear (for now).

It is really quite simple to go to Google and look for specific images that compliment what you are writing about, but have you ever asked yourself if you have the legal right to use the pictures that appear in your search? Check out this compiled list of steps to assure that you are completing all of the necessary precautions in finding the perfect, legally usable images for your content marketing efforts.

How To Use Google To Find Free Images

Step 1

Enter a search term into Google Images search.

blog photo

 

 

 

Step 2

Click the Gear icon, then select Advanced search.

blog photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3

Scroll down and use the usage rights drop down menu to select FREE TO USE OR SHARE, EVEN COMMERCIALLY.

blog photo

 

 

 

 

Step 4

Click the Advanced Search button.

blog photo

 

 

 

Voila!

The image search results will provide you with a plethora of images to choose from.

blog photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 5

Just to be safe, you want to double check that the image is really “free” to use. There are tools, many free, to check usage rights, like the TinEye reverse image search, that can help you locate additional information or creative commons usage. This step is highly recommend as other webmasters and bloggers could have removed the copyright and metadata from the image and re-uploaded without the owner’s permission.

blog photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Find Free Images via Other Sites

So if you are someone who has a love/hate relationship with Google, then the following information will be very handy for you. Here are noteworthy, free image websites along with some pros, cons and key tips for each.

Creative Commons

Pros

  • All photos are licensed under Creative Commons
  • Photos can be used for commercial use
  • Website explains photo licensing process
  • Allows you to search across multiple websites

Cons

  • In most cases, attribution is required as specified by copyright owner

MorgueFile (Recommended)

Pros

  • High-quality images
  • Has specialty images
  • You are free to adapt the work, use it for commercial purposes and use it without attributing to the original author. (This is under the conditions that you cannot sell, license, sublicense, rent, transfer or distribute this image exactly as it is without alteration. Also, you may not claim ownership of the image in its original state)

Cons

  • Some images must be paid for

Tips

  • For best results when searching for your image, use several search terms

Stock.xchng (Recommended)

Pros

  • Over 400,000 images
  • High-quality images
  • User-friendly website

Cons

  • Sometimes search images pull images from other sites, so make sure you do not accidentally steal images!
  • Some images must be paid for
  • Many of the images are commonly used on other sites

Every Stock Photo

Pros

  • Pulls photos that are licensed through Creative Commons
  • Show “terms of use” under each image so this saves you the time of clicking on each image for further information

Cons

  • Each image has its own licensing information. You MUST check to reassure that it can be used for your purposes

Tips

  • This site allows you to search by licensing requirement

Wikimedia Commons

Pros

  • Includes videos, audio and images
  • Easy to use website
  • Most images are on a public domain therefore there is no attribution necessary

Cons

  • Some images have Creative Commons licensing with attribution requirements

RGB Stock

Pros

  • High-quality images
  • Extremely friendly user interface

Tips

  • You must register to download the images

Pixel Perfect Digital

Pros

  • All images are provided under a Creative Commons Attribution license (What this license does is let you remix, tweak, and build upon images, even commercially as long as you credit pixelperfectdigital.com for the original creation )

Photo Pin

Pros

  • Web site is easier to maneuver than Creative Commons
  • Searches in Creative Commons licenses photos

Tips

  • Sponsored posts show up first on results page. Make sure you scroll down past the sponsored photos to reveal your actual search results
  • Clicking on actual results will show a larger view of an image in a lightbox with links to download an image in different sizes. It will also show you a link that you can insert in your post to attribute the image

Icons Etc.

Pros

  • You can find many small, obscure images that a Google search won’t show
  • All images are free

Cons

  • This site only provides icon images

Microsoft Image Gallery

Pros

  • All images are free
  • High image quality

How To Understand Creative Commons Terminology

I don’t know about you, but I am no legal jargon genius. Websites such as the ones listed above use a specialized language that sounds like a bunch of gibberish to those of us who are the opposite of copyright image law geeks. Now that you are knowledgeable with Google search and have a plenitude of free image websites to choose from, let’s get familiar with the Creative Commons terminology.

Attribution: CC BY

  • Allows you to distribute, tweak, and/or build upon the original image for personal or commercial purposes, provided that you credit the creator.

Attribution-NoDerivs: CC BY-ND

  • Allows you to distribute the image “unchanged and in whole” for commercial and non-commercial purposes, provided that you credit the creator.

Attribution-ShareAlike: CC BY-SA

  • Allows you to tweak and build upon the original image for commercial and non-commercial purposes, provided that you credit the creator. Any new art you create based on the original image will carry the same license and be available for commercial use by others.

Attribution-NonCommercial: CC BY-NC

  • Allows you to tweak or build upon the image non-commercial purposes, provided that you credit the creator. Any new art you create will not carry the same license as the original image, but still must be used for non-commercial purposes only.

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike: CC BY-NC-SA

  • Allows you to tweak and build upon the original photo for non-commercial reasons only, provided that you credit the creator.

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs: CCBY-NC-ND

  • Allows you to share the image, unchanged, for non-commercial purposes only provided that you credit the author. This is the most limited license.