Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Finding FREE and LEGAL Images

creative commons -Franz Patzig-

I've just had one of those wonderful ahhh-so-THAT's-how, can't-believe-I-didn't-know-this-earlier, can't-help-but-share-this moments. I have always wondered how to find images that are both free and legal to use on my blog. As it turns out, it's easy. I know it's not exactly the greatest discovery on the planet, but for my fellow ignoramists, here's how...

1. Search for images with a Creative Commons License

It appears that there are many artists/photographers who like to make their work available for others to share. Awesome! Creative Commons licenses give creators a means to communicate which rights they would like to reserve, and which they are happy to waive for the benefit of others. It is like a more flexible copyright system - "all rights reserved" becomes "some rights reserved".

Here are a couple of places I've found to search for images...
  • Flickr - use the advanced search and tick the "only search within Creative Commons-licensed content" box at the bottom of the page.
  • Google Images - again, use the advanced search. Under "usage rights" select the option you require (for example, "Return images that are labelled for reuse" or "Return images that are labelled for reuse with modification").
(There will be others of course. If you know of or can recommend other places to search for images with Creative Commons licenses, please do let me know!)

2. Check the license details

This will determine how you can use the image. For example, some creators are happy for you to use their image as is, but are not happy for you to modify it.

Here's what one Creative Commons license looks like. This license states that the creator is happy for you to share their image, AND that they are also happy for you to modify it, SO LONG AS you attribute the work to them. Simple as that!

On Flickr, the license information for an image is found on the right hand side under "License". Click on the "some rights reserved" link to be taken to the Creative Commons license information that relates to that image. 

3. Correctly attribute the image

Once you've found an image that you like, have checked the license to make sure you can use it in the way that you want to, and have copied the image onto your site, you need to make sure that you attribute the image to the creator. Give as much information as is available, such as....
  • The creator's full name or screen name. "Image by Esther Tattersall"
  • A link to their site or profile. "Image by Esther Tattersall"
  • The title or name of the image. "Weaving Light by Esther Tattersall"
  • If you've modified the image, mention that fact, and still attribute the original image to the creator. "Original image by Esther Tattersall"

And there you have it! My discovery of the day. Any other tips, anyone?...

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