You know how it is. You are writing a blog post and you need a fast image. Step away from Google Images where you will most likely end up stealing an image from someone else’s site. You really cannot use copyrighted materials without the permission of the copyright holder. It is not cool.
But not to worry, there are alternatives.
Usually, artists and photographers copyright their work and charge for the use of it. But more and more people are getting on the bandwagon of allowing others to republish their work with attribution under some conditions. You can read Laurence Lessings book, Free Culture which is by the way, totally free by downloading it right here. In the book, Lessing discusses the need for society to allow its people the freedom to create, freedom to build, and ultimately, freedom to imagine.
But I digress. There are several sources to search for reusable media. Creative Commons License, GNU Free Documentation License and the public domain are sources of photos, images, movies and documents available for you to use absolutely free. Here is how.
- Creative Commons Search ( http://search.creativecommons.org) This url brings up a Creative Commons search engine which pulls reusable media from sites like Wikipedia or Flickr images that are under Creative Commons licenses ( but make sure to meet the requirements of those like attribution).
- Wikimedia (http://commons.wikimedia.org) This source brings up images, audio, video and other media that is totally free for you to to use or modify even for commercial purposes.
- Sound Cloud ( http://soundcloud.com/creativecommons) This search will bring up audio that has been placed under Creative Commons License.
- Google You can also use Google’s advanced search options by adding licensed under Creative Commons to your search topic.
You may want to help this Creative Commons movement along by going to Flickr and changing your license to a Creative Commons license. Most people just put the normal “All Rights Reserved” copyright on their Flickr photos not knowing that there is an alternative. That’s why if I find an image I like on Flickr I will contact the owner and ask permission to use it with attribution. People are usually really glad you asked and permission is usually given.
Sometimes you can’t find what you need through these free sources. If I need an image or illustration for a client’s logo or header image I will often look through artists’ work online. If I find something, I contact them and ask to pay them for the use of their image for my client. I actually created my New Tricks logo from a painting of a dog I found online by Walter Sallas, whose site is called, Walter’s Dogs. When I asked Walter if I could use it he readily agreed and asked me to send him something to his Paypal account. I love my dog and was very generous.
And lastly, there are stock photo sources such as Dreamstime, Shutterstock and Veer where you can buy images for a few dollars a piece since usually you need only the smallest size with a 72 dpi to post online.