Using Images and Photos Legally On Your Website
How to Legally Use Photos On Your Website
When you are building your own website, you will want to add in photos. But how do you know if you are allowed? Where do you find photos for your website? How do you put photos legally on your website?
The Internet is full of photos and they seem to be freely available but mostly it is illegal to just steal these photos. Somehow you need to get permission to use photos on a website.
Take Your Own Photos
Nobody can argue this one, if you took the photos, you own the copyright and can do what you like! It might take a little longer, but it's worth it. If you took the photo, you have permission to use photos on a website. You can also look into selling your photos online for others to use, making a little extra on the side's always a handy way to cover your time/cost.
Buy a License
Whenever a photographer takes a photo, they own the copyright. To use a photograph you need the photographer's permission to use photos on a website. Permission is given to use the photograph in certain ways and for a period of time. What you do is buy a license to use the photos.
Royalty Free Stock Images
More recently a newer way to buy photos to use has become widespread, a more affordable way, with photos for sale under £1 each. "Royalty Free".
With royalty free photos, you buy them once and can then use and re-use without paying for them again. There are still some restrictions on how you can use the photos, but what you can do with them is much broader.
Note that this is royalty free, meaning you pay no further royalties. It does not mean the photo is free.
Rights Managed Photo Libraries
Traditionally, photos were sold as Rights Managed. This would mean you would negotiate a fee to use a photograph for a set period of time in very specific ways. For example "Use for 2 years on my website only". This would mean after 2 years you'd have to remove the photo from your website, or buy it again to continue using it. It would also mean you couldn't use the photo in other ways, for example in your flyers or leaflets. Prices would range from £30-500 per photo or more
Rights managed photo libraries are labour intensive because every image has to be negotiated, paperwork raised and invoices sent/checked. As a labour-intensive industry, and with previously limited availability of images available for use, photos and other images used to be a lot more expensive than they are today.
Using Stock Libraries & Image Libraries
In the last couple of years a myriad of stock photo agencies have sprung up and you can now buy royalty free photos to use on your website for under £1/$1 each. With these you buy them once and can use and re-use the photos for a lifetime on your website as well as in your flyers and advertising.
Most of the major stock libraries will have a variety of different licenses you can buy, under which you can use the images for commercial use as well as non-commercial. If you're not sure what license you need then just contact the stock library to double-check, it's best to tell them exactly what you're trying to do, so they give the right advice though! Don't try to mask your intentions, they're not going to steal your ideas.
What Size/Resolution Images Do You Need For a Website?
When you look for images for your website, you will want the resolution to be 72dpi. Most stock libraries will sell photos in two resolutions, 72dpi for websites and 300dpi for print. This is because a computer screen has only 72 dots per inch but a printing press will print documents at 300 dots per inch. If you use a 300dpi image on your website then you will be slowing down the whole site as the photos take ages to download - and your website visitor may give up and go elsewhere.
You will need to compare the size (in inches/cm) that you want to use the photo with the size it is for sale. If the photo for sale is larger than you need, you can re-size it down. If you want the photo larger you will be able to make it larger using computer software - although if you are going to want it considerably larger you might need a designer to do this for you.
You only need a 72dpi image for use on a website, but if you will also use the image in printed material, then look for 300dpi.
Remember: if the original image is 1cm square at 300dpi, then it would be OK on a website stretched to about 4cm square because as you're stretching it in either direction, you're reducing the number of dots it has per inch! Not the best way to do things, it's best to have the image at the right size to start with, but it's all really working on basic maths, so you can get away with that.
Using Website Photos for Commercial Use
When stock libraries say they are not for commercial use, this does not mean that you can't use them in your website. What this means is that you cannot benefit commercially from the photo - so that would be, for example, if you were creating web templates for resale, or producing canvas prints for resale, or printing the photo onto mugs for resale. Most stock agencies will have an Extended Rights License available for you to do these things - every photo and every stock agency will have different rules so just be aware and check.
If you are simply using the photos on your website or in your flyers, leaflets etc then this won't be considered commercial use and a standard license would be enough.
Using Google Image Search to Find Photos You Can Use
You can use Google to search for photos that you can use on your website. Once you have found an image for your website you will then just need to quickly check how you can use it, many require a link back to their site for you to do this.
To use Google Image search to find photos to use on your website legally, simply:
- Go to google
- Click on the images link/tab
- Click on Advanced Image Search
- Close to the bottom there is a drop down box for Usage Rights, click that and you will want to choose Labeled for Reuse.
- Choose the search words and other criteria you want in the top half of the page
- Click the GOOGLE SEARCH button at the top
- You will now only see images that have been marked as able to be reused.
- Using Morguefile Free Images on a Website
How to use Morguefile to get a free image to use on a website, in your blog, or for your online writing.
Free Photos on Morguefile
There are lots of free photos you can legally use n your website, on a website called Morguefile. Their free license is very clear.
You can read an article taking you through it step by step: Using Morguefile Free Images
Morguefile contains free high resolution digital stock photographs and reference images for either corporate or public use. The purpose of this site is to provide free image reference material for illustrators, comic book artist, designers, teachers and all creative pursuits.
Morguefile is easy to use and ideal for bloggers, article writers and similar.
Get Free Photos from Flickr
Flickr is a site that professional and amateur photographers around the world use to show off their photos. Most of these will not be available for you to use, they're just there for the photographer to show people their photos.
However, when photographers upload their photos to flickr they have a tick box they can tick that marks the photo as available for use under the Creative Commons license, which to you means "free to use". Most will still require you to link back to their photo to say where you got it from.
To search these photos go here: Flickr Creative Commons Photos
Free Images, No Attribution:
The photos in this group are available for use by anyone. There is no need to give credit or to fear rights infringement. These images are posted by their creators. By posting to this group, you're allowing freedom of use. We believ3 in honesty and freedom. Post your pictures here if you'd like to help set great images free for presentations, re-interpretation and connecting with others. It's kind to contact the creator if you have the time.
Free Images With No Attribution
If you want free images, with no attribution, simply free images where you don't have to link back to the photographer, then there is a Flickr group containing photos you can use.
The website is at: http://www.flickr.com/groups/freeuse/
Once there, scroll down and you will see a search box.
Search Creative Commons
There's a handy search for images and photos you can legally use on your website at http://search.creativecommons.org
Simply type in your search term in the top, then make sure the two boxes are ticked for
- "use for commercial purposes"
- "modify, adapt or build upon"
The results you get should meet these criteria, but you do need to then just double-check and see what attribution you need to make, if any.
Places to Find Free Images for your Website
For those of you still stuck, here's a further list of places to find free images for your website:
Free Digital Photos have clearly set out rules in using their photos. Check out their FAQ section. So long as you're using images in an approved way, and you are providing a link to the photographer, these are free images with permission to use on a website.
Flickr Creative Commons Free Pictures - a great way to backlink to your hub too, as you can leave a comment in there to say "I've used your photo here....."
Registered, free, members can get four specific free photos per week. iStockPhoto is a microstock photo library, so you could buy photos from them for under $1. They offer 4/week because it'll keep you going back to their site and they hope one day you'll buy from them instead of just seeing what's free this week.
Image*After is a large online free photo collection. You can download and use any image from their site and use it in your own work, either personal or commercial
Quite a limited selection, but you might find just the free photos you're looking for.
I didn't find too many here that suit my needs - be aware that they're really trying to get you to use dreamstimestock, which you'd pay for.
A free to use, public domain photo database, containing thousands of images.
The pictures are free for you to use. I quite like this one for generic web images representing business, money, etc.
Remember: Always attribute the image to the photographer. They've taken the time to make their photos available for you to use - do them the courtesy of attributing/backlinking back to their photo or their website. For me, it's non-negotiable! It's web courtesy and mostly a legal requirement for you to use them free.
Twitter Photo Sharing
Twitter is rolling out a new photo sharing feature, so I thought I'd mention it here, for those of you who are looking to use images legally on your website or in your blog.
The photos that come through Twitter photo sharing are owned by the person who took the photo and uploaded it. They don't belong to Twitter. Twitter photo sharing images are not in the public domain.
This means that you can't use them for your own purposes,unless you actually ask the original photographer for that permission.
Take Your Own Photos
If you take your own photos, then you own the copyright. You can do what you like with them. They are yours.
Taking your own photographs is so much easier these days as you can use an iPhone, slipped into your pocket - and simply get it out and take photos where you get the chance. It can be annoying if you've got a camera to stumble across the perfect photo opportunity, if only you'd brought your camera out. If you use an iPhone then it's simple - and as everybody's snapping photos of things all the time you can do it discretely.
Get your photos from stock photo libraries, you'll get a much greater choice of professionally produced photos
Check the license to see how you can use the photos, this is more important if you've got free photos for your website as it's easier with stock libraries to be sure
Ensure you buy the right resolution for your use, you need a higher resolution if you're printing out a photo
Check the physical size of the photo for sale and compare that to the size you need to reproduce it at
Good luck with using photos legally on your website!