Before you go running to download photos off Google, there are a few things you need to know about the proper usage of photos on your blog.
No matter what you read, or what blogging podcast you listen to, they give you the same piece of advice repeatedly.
Add photos to your blog.
Who doesn’t enjoy looking at a beautiful picture of a beach, or the silhouette of young lovers? People love seeing images when they read online.
Plus, they are a superb way to break up blocks of text.
But the last thing you want to do is get yourself in hot water because your perfect photo has a copyright. Using a free photo is fine if you understand the legalities behind them.
Here are 3 rules to follow when looking for photos for your blog.
RULE #1: JUST BECAUSE THE PHOTO IS ON THE INTERNET DOESN’T MEAN YOU CAN USE IT
If you are caught using anything that has a copyright on your blog, such as a photo, the owner can sue you.
Which means you will be financially liable for using it. Even if you provide an attribution or a link back to the source of the photo, it’s still a no-go.
To use a photo with a copyright, you need to purchase the usage rights or received permission IN WRITING, from the owner, to use it.
RULE #2: EDUCATE YOURSELF ON THE BASICS OF COPYRIGHT LAW
There are three key types of copyright law that you need to know to use photos you have not taken on your blog. Let’s break them down.
Public domain: A photo in the public domain either never had a copyright to start with or the copyright has expired.
These photos are fair game and can be used by anyone for commercial or personal use. There is one exception to the public domain rule: the picture is of an identifiable person.
Then you may need to get their permission before you use the photo.
Royalty-free: If a photo is marked as royalty-free, you can use it without the need to pay for the use of the photo.
These images have a copyright and the site you find them on has already paid the royalty fee. Stock photo sites typically do this and may charge you a small fee to buy the photo.
Creative Commons: Creative commons allow photographers to license their photos and decide how they want the public to use them.
If you see one marked CC0, that means the owner has relinquished the right to the photo and it can be used anywhere.
CC BY 2.0, another common license, means that the owner wants attribution on your blog.
RULE #3: THERE ARE WEBSITES THAT PROVIDE FREE PHOTOS FOR USE ON YOUR BLOG
Since photos are such an enormous part of blogging, websites that catalog photos for free use have popped up. These sites are the perfect place to find what you need.
Don’t be lazy in finding photos that you can use on your blog. Do your homework to make sure the photo you want to use doesn’t fall under copyright.
If you can’t tell, move on to a different photo.