Publications on the Internet need to be accompanied by images: they attract attention, complement the meaning, and motivate a person to finish reading. Not everyone can afford to pay for the services of a designer or artist. So, the question is, can you find free photos without breaking the law nowadays? The answer is in this article.
Why Can’t You Copy the Images From the Google Search?
Almost all types of photos created in recent years are protected by copyright. If you copied someone else’s photos and used them for your publication, then this is what you can expect:
1. The copyright holder will complain to the search engine support service, and your photo (or even the entire site) will be removed from the search results.
2. The copyright holder will sue you. Subsequently, with a high degree of probability, you will lose the trial, and you will be forced to pay compensation for the stolen photo.
3. Photo theft can be detected by your readers. This could lead to credibility loss, which is very dangerous for the brand.
4. You are on a dangerous path of violation of rights on the Internet. Therefore, be ready for your unique photos to be stolen, as you will not be able to protect your rights: you did the same.
Where to Get Free Pictures: 4 Legal Ways
You can get high-quality photos without breaking the law. Just choose the option that suits you.
There are several ways to do it. The first is to independently form a base of photos from photographers and artists. Provide them with certain conditions (for example, advertising on your site) in exchange for the opportunity to use their photos. It is enough to sign an agreement with 10 specialists that can provide photos.
The second way is to order a photo shoot. Why look for photos with the tag “desk lamp” if your company produces lamps? 2 hours in the studio, and you will have about 200 unique photos for publication. This is enough for a couple of months. Use the tips on social networks branding: they will help you work properly with content while maintaining the same style and becoming recognizable.
Creative Commons License
CC or Creative Commons is the name of a public organization. It made the legal distribution of copyrighted creative products possible (including photos). There are several license options that allow owners to use their photos on sites and social networks (you can find specific data in the description of each photo):
- CC-BY – use as you wish, but indicate the author;
- CC-BY-SA – change and install photos as you want, but specify the author and publish under the same license;
- CC-BY-ND – use photos for any purpose, but without changing them. Indicate the source;
- CC-BY-NC – download and edit content, but exclusively for non-commercial purposes;
- CC-BY-NC-SA – use photos for non-commercial purposes and publish them under the same license;
- CC-BY-NC-ND – use photos in their original form for non-commercial purposes, indicate the author.
If Public Domain is mentioned in the file description, that means that the copyright term for this product has expired (or other legal circumstances have arisen). So, you have the right to use the photo for free, by simply indicating the name of the author or owner (most often it is an archive, library, etc.).
Relatively Free Way: Best Freelance Sites to Order Content From
You can find a freelancer who will create unique graphic only for your site or take the necessary pictures. Why did we consider this method to be free? Because there is a little trick to it.
Beginning freelancers are in great need of recommendations. They help them find profitable employers. Therefore, they are ready to complete the first few projects for free or for a very small amount of money, for a review. Look for such specialists, and you will get what you need.
Here are a few of the best freelance sites:
- 99Designs — a community of designers, where you can order any type of graphical content;
- PeoplePerHour — a large site where you can order any services – including photoshoots;
- Toptal — a well-known platform for hiring specialists, and designers are among them;
- Upwork — international project, which employs many freelancers-beginners.
The Sources of Free Photos and Pictures
Here are several resources where you can find and download free stock and other photos for your blog, website or social network profile.
Public Domain Photos
Look for free stock photos here:
1. Wikimedia Commons. Over 55 million stock photos, sorted by topic. Therefore, all the files that you find here can be published for commercial purposes.
2. Free-Images. You can search and download the free stock photos that you like or vector pictures, without registration. Photos are allowed for commercial use.
3. Snappygoat. Another great website that has more than 13 million stock photos on various topics.
4. DrStockPhoto. Many pictures for blogs, social networks, commercial pages. You can use the stock photos that you’ve found on social networks. When publishing the photo, you do not need to specify the link to the resource and the name of the author (the creators of the project insist on this).
5. Pixabay. Another popular website that has more than 1 million photos and vector files for free commercial use.
Free Stock Photos with Creative Commons License
Free stock photos on specialized sites are almost always distributed under a CC license. So, before downloading, pay attention to the licensing conditions that we mentioned above. The best photo hosting sites for searching stock photos are:
- Flickr — many photos with a CC license. There is a filter where you can configure the appropriate type of license and search by keywords;
- Official Creative Commons resource. Naturally, it contains the most complete database of free stock photos and pictures distributed under license. So, you can select a content option, enter keywords, select and download an image from one of the sources;
- Picjumbo — a portal of copyright free stock photos made by the owner of the site. It permits any use and requires only mentioning the author in return;
- Shutterstock — several million free photos conveniently divided into themes;
- Public Domain Photos — a source of beautiful high-resolution free stock photos added directly by the authors;
- Free Images — a lot of free stock photos, but you have already seen some of them elsewhere. The reason for this is the replication of photos. The download requires a long registration;
- Unsplash — a lot of thematic content that you can download for free;
- Stockvault — any stock photo for non-commercial use that you like is available here.
- FreePhotos — a large collection of materials with daily replenishment;
- Adobe Stock Photos — more than 100 million free stock photos and graphics. Many thematic categories and simple search.
Where to Find Free Legal GIF Images?
GIF images for publishing on social networks and blogs are an opportunity to attract attention and reduce the load on the server: unlike video, a GIF needs only a bit of memory. You can look for them on these resources:
1. Giphy.com – there are many categories, topics and directions. Look for what you need and you will discover thousands of free options.
2. Reaction Gifs – free animated pictures with different emotions and reactions.
3. Paul Robertson – a lot of brave and crazy ideas. We don’t even know why you may want such GIFs. But what if they are needed?
Please, note that posts on social networks are often complemented by GIFs based on TV shows and movies. So, make sure the free content is legal. Even a 2-seconds segment from a film is an object of copyright. To avoid problems, leave an e-mail address for copyright holders after each publication.
How to Avoid the Repetition of Photos?
It is possible that the free stock photos you have chosen for your article are already used by several thousand people. Therefore, this is a big disadvantage of photo banks and stock resources.
If uniqueness is important to you, check the selected stock photos through Google Images. In the results, the system will show how many times the stock photo was uploaded for publication on other sites.
How to Put Watermarks on Photos?
Obviously, not all authors worry about obeying the law. Internet photo theft is common. And if you decide to create unique high quality copyrighted photos, they can be stolen immediately after publication. How can you protect your rights, investments and interests?
A classic and effective method for photo protection is watermarking. Photos with watermarks are not interesting for pirates: who wants to promote another resource or brand in their article?
How to put a watermark on a photo? You can use the Logaster logo service watermark maker to create watermarks: you can generate a unique logo to protect online content, only in two clicks, and then download it on a transparent background.
You can combine a watermark and a stock photo using any service – for example, Watermark.
The advantages of watermarks:
• protection against theft, especially if the watermark cannot be cropped or masked;
• native advertising and brand promotion through photos.
But remember: signs sometimes spoil the aesthetics of the picture. In addition, they do not guarantee legal protection; you’d better protect your photos with copyright.
Respect copyrights and do not risk your reputation – download legal stock photos for your articles and posts. There are many sources of images: use them in compliance with the license terms. But remember that it’s not unique for free: you have to accept that thousands of other authors use the free stock photo at the same time. If you want to avoid this, create your own pictures, and protect them from being stolen by using watermarks. You can use the 15 tools for visual content development for your blog or site.
You can also check this design tool, a graphic design tool for non-designers that makes content creation available for everyone.
Author’s bio: Dmitry Leiba is the content marketing manager at Logaster. He possesses hands-on experience in writing about technologies, marketing trends and branding strategies. In his spare time, he is always happy to travel and learn about the world and new cultures.
Image 1 from capalino.com
Image 2 from pixabay.com
Image 3 screenshot from commons.wikimedia.org
Image 4 screenshot from flickr.com
Image 5 screenshot from reactiongifs.com
Image 6 screenshot from logaster.com