Finding ‘free’ images for a blog

These are series of notes I wrote for my writing buddy Jen (writer of fast and funny YA fiction –  still unpublished, but it’s only a matter of time!). She was not totally sure how to go about this social media mullarkey, so I wrote her a set of ‘how to’ notes, based on my own experience of setting up an online presence. I’ve posted the notes here in case they’re of use to people. The first of these is  a step by step on how to set up a website using WordPress.

Last year, I wrote a blog post about scientists watching Sherlock. I wanted a picture of Sherlock (or of Benedict Cumberbatch, at least) so I looked for one. Being that sort of a geek (I blame the day job), I looked for the BBC policy on using their images in blogs. The policy isn’t aimed at blogs as such, but the basic gist of it was ‘if you want to use one of our images, ask us. We’ll probably charge you for it’. So the post remains photoless.

So, where can you find copyright free images for use in a blog?

First, a word about copyright. Copyright is an automatic right that exists in any creative work. This includes pictures. The copyright belongs to the person who made the creative work (unless it was created under contract – whole complicated other story; always read your contracts). If you’re into that sort of dry detail, there’s a whole load of info on copyright at the UKIPO. http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/copy.htm

If you reproduce someone’s work without their permission, you are infringing their copyright. Besides, it’s not polite.

There are hundreds of images on the web. Some of them are available under a creative commons licence. The best way to find ‘free’ images is to put your keywords and “creative commons” into a Google image search. Click through to the website and see if you can use it. Flickr has a fair number of images with creative commons licenses.

What is a creative commons licence? There’s a good description here http://creativecommons.org/about

The most permissive type of CC licence is an Attribution Licence. Broadly speaking these are images that people don’t mind you using, so long as you acknowledge whom it belongs to. Attribution is a minimum requirement. If you adapt the image, you should still attribute the initial image to the person who made it.

Some licences specify ‘non-commercial use only’. Does my blog count as commercial use? Arguably, I blog for my own amusement, but eventually I hope my blog is to raise the profile of me as an author and, by extension to sell books. This makes it sort-of commercial. So I tend to steer clear of the non-commercial use only images – which is a shame because some of them are really, really stunning.

Now to find an image to go with this post. How about this one?

If I were a bloke, I'd wear cufflinks. I like cufflinks.
Creative Commons by Kalexanderson

(Actually, I love the rest of the images this person has, but they are for non-commercial use and/or sold through Getty… )

Or this one?

Cartoon Bookstack
Bookstack by Hiking Artist

Or, by now, probably this?

For Goodness sake, make her stop!
CC photo by Pink Sherbert Photography

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5 thoughts on “Finding ‘free’ images for a blog

  1. Thank you for this resource! This is a great tip! I’m at the very beginning of creating a blog and have thought about how to incorporate pictures in a way that was appropriate. This is a BIG help!! 🙂

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