For my Design 101 session at FitBloggin’ last month I explained how to find images for your blog posts without stealing. This is important to prevent your ass from being sued for copyright infringement. Granted, most people who steal images don’t get sued, but it’s always a possibility. I’d recommend that you respect copyright laws unless you rent server space in Sweden or like to live life on the edge in a sort of dorky way. Sure, stealing is convenient, free and easy, but finding images that are legal to use can be convenient, free and easy too.
I like to include images in my posts because they draw readers in and break up otherwise intimidating blocks of text in really long posts. The best place to find images is on Flickr, a popular file sharing service that allows people to post their photos under Creative Commons licenses. According to the Creative Commons site:
Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation.
Uh, that didn’t make sense to me either, and I actually know what they do. In human speak, Creative Commons allows people to license their creative work with less restrictions than standard copyright law, which typically says HANDS OFF, YOU PIXEL-MONGER! There are different licenses which grant varying levels of freedom. You can read about the different licenses here.
The great thing is that Flickr allows you to search just for images licensed for use under Creative Commons. Start by going to the Flickr advanced search page. (You can also get here by clicking on the word “Search” next to the search box on any page and then clicking on “Advanced search” near the search box in the main content area.) First, enter a search term in the search box.
Then scroll to the bottom of the page and check the box that says “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content.”
You’ll then get a list of image thumbnails as your search results. You can browse through these until you find something you like. Sometimes I don’t find anything on my first search and have to try again with a different search term. For instance, to find the image for this post I first searched for “secret” and “shhh” before finding something with the search term “blog.”
Once you find an image, click on it to go to the detailed page for that image. Then you can right-click on the image itself to display a menu that links to different image sizes. I usually go with the 500px width because that fits best within my blog’s layout.
On that page I can right-click on the image and select “Save image as” to save a copy to my computer. If you can’t right-click on the image, you’ve probably searched incorrectly and found an image that is copyright restricted.
Once I’ve done that I click the back button until I get back to the image detail page. In the bottom right section of the page there is a link to “Some rights reserved.”
This links to the specific Creative Commons license for this photo. In this case it’s the “Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)” license. Yeah, it’s a mouthful.
Under the terms of this license I can share the work as long as I:
- Attribute it to the creator. Hey there, Lady Madonna! Attribution complete.
- Don’t use it for commercial purposes. So, I can’t sell prints of the image or T-shirts with the image on it.
- I don’t make any derivative works. That means I can’t edit the image in any way, like making the background green
This is actually one of the most restrictive licenses. Other licenses usually let you remix the work as you like.
The final step is to then post the image on my blog and include the links to the original image on Flickr and to the license under which I’m using the photo. I usually post the credit like this: Photo by Lady Madonna / by NCND 2.0 CC
So there you go! That’s how I find images for my blog without hiding out from the intellectual property police. I hope that tutorial helps you remain a law-abiding, ethically sound blogger.