The Challenges of Image Use, and Some Help!

Posted by John H. Heinrichs

Dec 18

Lets face it, with only words on a page, it is difficult to capture the attention of an audience and keep them interested, Blogbe it for a school project, a presentation at work, or a company blog post.  Different images, such as photos or diagrams, can help enhance any one of these works and can be the key to captivating an audience.  While the vast array of images on the internet may seem enticing to use for this purpose, it is critical to recognize which images are free to use and which ones are not and to use them properly.  Just like we can’t copy another student’s work, we can’t go out on the internet and use whatever images we may be interested in.  Many images have copyright protection and others, though may not be copyrighted, at least require that the creator of the photo or image be recognized or gain permission from individuals that may be in the photo.  So it is important to be aware of and to pay attention to each and every image that you consider using in your works. (Image File: Blog iconoiiiiiiii.jpg  Photo by Cortega9, available under a Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)

Finding Images To Use

This can be a challenge for many organizations that are getting into social media or have new people that may not be experts in the field.  The first challenge is to know the rules and laws of copyrighted images.  The second challenge is to know where to go for non-copyrighted images or how to obtain authorization to use copyright images.

Flickr is a great site to go to for images.  Compfight is a terrific image search engine that helps individuals look for images on Flickr and what else is great about it is that it allows you to select Creative Commons.    Creative Commons are photos that have been released, which means that you can use the photo without asking.  It is still good practice to attribute the photo to the creator, but not necessary to contact the creator before using it.  It is also important for those using the photos for business purposes, to avoid any images that include “NC” or non-commercial in their license.  Compfight also allows you to search only those images that are for licensed for commercial use.

Another great place to go for images for free use is Wikimedia Commons.  Most of the images here are in the public domain, meaning that their copyright has expired and they are free to use for both commercial and non-commercial use.  The fine print under each image clearly states if its okay to use or not.

Popular Websites for Free Images

Some other popular websites for free images are:

  • Freerange – once signed up for a free membership, you have access to thousands of stock photos free personal or commercial use
  • Stockvault – thousands of free copyright free photos are available, but only for personal or non-commercial use
  • FreeDigitalPhotos – another great site that has thousands of photos, but charges a fee if you want a higher resolution version
  • Stock.xchng – has thousands of free photos for free use as long as you follow the image license agreement

Each of these sites has its own list of rules and regulations, but essentially they all offer free images as long as you comply with their requirements.  These are just a few of many sites that offer great images with little to no strings attached, but there are many more out there if you can’t find what you are looking for.  The amount of images can in fact be overwhelming for someone looking to enhance a project or a blog for personal or commercial use, but one has to remember that proper image use is important and needs to be taken seriously, no matter how taxing it may seem.

For larger companies, it may be difficult to find the types of images they are looking for, as a lot of the time they may need something very specific.  For examples, photos of their products aren’t something they will likely find for free on the internet, but those companies will more than likely be taking their own photos.  That’s not to say that employees at larger companies may not have a use for images on the internet, for published presentations or training sessions for example.  These employees would have to take into consideration all the same challenges of image use that any student, small business owner, or internet user looking to publish works on the internet would.

(All credit and accolades for this tremendous blog post are to Danusia Coumans who researched and created this post.)

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