Do you know the rules behind using images and graphics from the web? How about the differences between a copyrighted photo and one under a Creative Commons license? I would like to introduce you to a two part series on using images found on the Internet on your blog (or any other marketing materials.) Let’s start with Images 101 – Copyrights and Creative Commons.
Okay, so you have a blog
You know what you want to write about. How do you jazz it up and make it look interesting? By using graphics, of course. You have two options: use your own images or use stock images. If you choose to use stock, there are thousands of images out there on the web. With so many, how do you pick through them all to find the right ones?
First thing: Don’t just do a Google Image search and pick the first photo that shows up under “business meeting.” Believe it or not, there are rules and regulations to picking and finding photos for your marketing needs. Most of the photos on a Google Image search are copyrighted by somebody, most likely the photographer and/or company who commissioned that photograph. They usually don’t allow people to just take the photo and use it at free will. Taking that business meeting image and posting it on your website without the permission of the copyright holder would be illegal and that’s not something any of us wants to deal with.
Okay, so if that’s out of the question…now what?
Well, you have a few options so don’t worry. Websites like Flickr, iStock, and Stock Xchng are just a few of many stock photography sites. Flickr is probably one of the biggest photo libraries on the web. They put photos into two categories: Copyrighted or under a Creative Commons license. Under Creative Commons there are several different license categories. Some allow a bit more freedom to customize the image while others are strict and can only be used to enhance your project. To read more about how copyrights and the Creative Commons licenses work read this great article from Pat Flynn. It is good information to know what you CAN and CANNOT do with photos taken by somebody else.
iStock is another option. They charge users royalties in order to use an image. The amount charged depends on the size of image you need. On Stock Xchng it is common that a photographer likes to know where their photo is being used. Every stock photography site is different. If you do a simple web search for them, you’ll find plenty of sites that can help you out. Creative Commons also have a page that can help you search different sites for images. Browse around until you find one that fits your needs. Just make sure you read and follow their rules.
Or, to avoid dealing with copyrights and Creative Commons, you can always use your own photographs or graphics. Since you are the creator, you hold the rights and can use them as you please.
If you have any questions about copyrights, the Creative Commons licenses, or anything else please leave a comment below or write to us on our Facebook wall and we will help you out!