Tag Archives: Proper Image Use

Free Public Domain Image Resources For Websites and Marketing Materials

This is the final blog in a series of three blogs helping to provide simple guidelines and best practices that can be followed to not only help find and use images from external sources in a manner that respects copyright laws, but also help you to potentially avoid finding yourself in a lawsuit over an improperly used photo, artwork piece, or content excerpt.

Here are some great resources where you can find and download photographs and artwork that is in the Public Domain and in some cases, does not require attribution. It should be noted that even though public domain photos don’t require that you name the author, we still encourage you to follow the same basic image citation format of citing author, license, and source. (a/o 10/2015)

A Guide to Proper Image Use and Content Use on Your Website or Marketing Materials

This is the first in a series of three blogs helping to provide simple guidelines and best practices that can be followed to not only help find and use images from
external sources in a manner that respects copyright laws, but also help you to
potentially avoid finding yourself in a lawsuit over an improperly used photo,
artwork piece, or content excerpt.

Material That Requires Permission

As a general rule, you should always secure permission for the following:

  • A single quotation or several shorter quotes from a book.
  • A single quotation of more than 50 words from a newspaper, magazine, or
    journal.
  • Artwork, photographs, or forms, whether or not from a published source.
    – Sometimes more than one permission is required for a photograph (Permission from the photographer and also from the creator of the underlying work shown in the photograph).
  • Charts, tables, graphs, and other representations where you are using the entire representation.
  • Material which includes all or part of a poem or song lyric (even as little as one line), or the title of a song.
  • Computer representations, such as the capture of Internet or other online screen shots. (For small and insignificant portions, “fair use” may apply. Be sure to see the description of “fair use” in our next post).
  • If a website invites or authorizes copying and there is nothing to indicate it
    contains material which is original to others and therefore would require
    permission from the original source, then you do not need to get permission.

In addition to the general rules above and the best practices we will be discussing further, there are additional permissions and releases that may need to be obtained. For example, a release may be required for photographs or reproductions of specific brand-name products and for use of trade names and logos. To be safe, you may want to contact the company behind a photo before using it. For photos of people, especially private citizens as opposed to public officials and public figures, you will need to obtain a model release. This is particularly necessary if such material will be used in part of the promotion of your website or work.

Below, we have provided simple guidelines and best practices that can be followed to not only help find and use images and other materials from external sources in a manner that respects copyright laws, but also provide tips to potentially avoid finding yourself in a lawsuit over an improperly used photo, excerpt, or piece of artwork.

Website DOs

  • Use images legally by:
    – Using images you already own or originated yourself
    – Using Public Domain images (Creative Commons (CC) or Public Domain license)
    – Purchase images from stock image sites
    – Using legally downloaded royalty-free photos and following their license guidelines
  • When citing others’ images and artwork, be sure to include the author name, license type, and source (e.g. Bob Smith, CC-BY, via flickr or Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons)
  • Be sure to link to an image’s source page

Marketing Material DOs

  • Use images legally by:
    – Using images you already own or originated yourself
    – Purchase images from stock image sites
    – Using legally downloaded royalty-free photos and following their license guidelines
  • Use high-resolution images – at least 300 dpi.

Website DON’Ts

  • Use an image you found on Google Images
    – Many people credit “Google Images” for their photos but this is a big no-no. Google Images did not create that image, nor does it host it. Google Images helps you find images, but it is not the best tool for finding images to use, as not all of those images are licensed to be used by other people.
  • Use an image with a watermark.
    – All photos are legally copyrighted to the owner even if they are not watermarked or attributed.
  • Use an “Attribution” image and not attribute the author.
    – Many Creative Commons images come with an “Attribution” license, which means that you can use the image, but only if you credit the author. Crediting an author requires both a name and a URL.
  • Use an image that you found on a random website.
    – The only instance where you can use this type of image is IF it comes with a Creative Commons license that allows for commercial use.

Marketing Material DON’Ts

  • Use quotations or excerpts without permission from the author or originator of the content and without properly sourcing said author or content originator
  • Use an image with a watermark.
    – All photos are legally copyrighted to the owner even if they are not watermarked or attributed.
  • Use an image you found on Google Images
    – Many people credit “Google Images” for their photos but this is a big no-no. Google Images did not create that image, nor does it host it. Google Images helps you find images, but it is not the best tool for finding images to use, as not all of those images are licensed to be used by other people.
  • Use photographs or artwork without written permission from the originator of said photograph or artwork
  • Use images off the internet in print.
    – The quality of images on websites is not good enough as it is usually 72 dpi (dots per inch) and will show up pixelated on your flyer.