You’ve become aware that copying photos and graphic images you find on the internet might be considered stealing them. This may or may not be morally wrong but breaking the law is at least a bit problematic. If you need pictures and don’t want to pay for them, here are sources for getting them legally free:
Images licensed under Creative Commons terms are free to use although they do have some strings attached to them (creators want to be named, for one thing). Photopin is a repository where you can find plenty of “free” Creative Commons pictures.
Getty Images is a high quality stock image bureau which now offers 35 million photos for free use. BBC reports on the reason for this policy shift:
Getty said it had made the move after realising thousands of its images were being used without attribution. “Our content was everywhere already,” said Craig Peters, a business development executive at the Seattle-based company … In essence, it is admitting defeat. By offering the ability to embed photos, Getty is saying it cannot effectively police the use of its images in every nook and cranny of the internet.
Using the Getty Image photograph embed tag creates a link that brings viewers to the company’s site and it will make you legally compliant. A Getty executive explains how to get free photos “…go to one of our customer sites and you right-click. Or you go to Google Image search or Bing Image Search and you get it there.”
You might want to note that free to use and royalty-free licenses are not the same. A royalty-free image license means that you pay a one-time fee to acquire rights to use the image, but you can use it in different projects without needing to track or worry about the number of impressions (how many times it is shown to visitors). You can also use it on different websites you’re affiliated with and in print materials.
Whereas, free to use means no money changes hands, but you may be required to honor certain conditions associated with an image’s use such as, crediting the author or owner or providing a link back to their website. And, free use images may be free only for personal – but not commercial – use. If you want to comply with the terms under which images are being offered for free use, simply read up on what they are.
Google also offers a bunch of results for the term ‘free images‘. If you find anything good, please share your findings in a comment …