If you haven’t been reading Don Crowther’s blog, you’re in for a treat. He is by far the most knowledgeable person I’ve heard address social networking and how to honorably function in such realms as professionals. This morning in his blog, he addressed the topic of illegal photos. He wrote a piece in his blog about how many people simply re-use photos and graphics they find on the web, and how some of that is legal and some is illegal. You can read his original post here.
The point is this: You can’t download images you find in a Google search or other public source on-line and use them for your own web site, blog, book cover, product, etc. Doing so may, and usually does, violate a copyright of the person who originally created the image. As professionals, such pirating could be especially troublesome with regard to legal entanglements or penalties for us.
Fortunately there are several sites that operate with a “Creative Commons License,” which allows public use of images they contain, assuming of course, that we follow their terms and conditions. Sometimes this means we have to give credit to an author or designer. The issue of ownership needs to be verified for each image or graphic we use.
It’s apparent that people use Google searches for images or Flickr to find pictures, video clips or other difficult to create graphical content for their web activities. While both of these sites are tremendous resources, they contain images that would be legal or illegal to use. This Google blog post explains how to find images that are licensed and appropriate to use on any website, including a professional website.
Don’s blog has a video showing how to find images on Flickr. You might also want to read the comments on Don’s blog, since several of his readers suggested alternative sites for finding legal images. For example, this site was of interest to me http://www.sxc.hu.
Lastly, you may want to know that there are limitations to using these sites. They don’t have as many images available, and they aren’t always the best quality, especially Google and Flickr. They are public repositories for images. Basically, your 10 year old next door neighbor might post images on these sites as she’s learning to play with her new iPhone camera.
If your activity requires a good image, such as for the cover of your new eBook or brochure website, then you might peruse sites like Istockphoto (my favorite) or Getty Images, where you can find professionally taken photos, images, vectors, and video clips that can be very reasonable in price.
TIP: If you simply want a legal photo for a website, you may want to use the smallest photo available from one of the professional photos sites, such as listed above. Photos are often priced by size, so the smallest is the least expensive. For the most part, they will be more than adequate for any website. See one of my homepages for an example of how an extra small photo can be used on a website slider: SelfhelpMagazine and how well they reproduce online.
Please share your thoughts on this by posting a comment below.