March 18, 2023

The Dos and Don’ts of Using Free Pictures for Commercial Purposes

By Morkven

In the age of the internet, using images and photos has become a necessity for many businesses. However, purchasing photographs and images can quickly become expensive, especially for small businesses and budding entrepreneurs. That’s why using free images which are readily available on the web has become a quick go-to option. It can save time and money, but it is important to remember that using free images for commercial purposes is not as simple as a copy and paste.

In this article, we will explore the dos and don’ts of using free pictures for commercial purposes.

DO seek out and use images with a Creative Commons license.

There are several options available if you’re looking for free images to use for commercial purposes. One of the safest and most reliable ways is to use search engines like Google, with their advanced search tool, Flickr, or Pexels to find images with a Creative Commons license. A Creative Commons license permits free use, including for commercial purposes, with certain restrictions that are always clearly mentioned.

To use such images, you must ensure that you comply with the license requirements that the contributors have put in place. For instance, some images require attribution, while others may require that you link to the original source of the image. It’s crucial to read and understand the license terms before using an image.

DON’T use images that are copyrighted.

Copyrighted images are protected by law, meaning that the owner of the image holds the rights to it. Using an image that you do not have the rights for is illegal and can attract hefty fines or even lawsuits.

You should always assume that an image is copyrighted unless it is otherwise explicitly stated. This means that unless it’s posted on a site that explicitly states that the image is in the public domain, you must assume that the image is copyrighted and look for other alternatives.

DO use filters to narrow your search.

Using filters is a great way to narrow your search for the images you need. For instance, on Google, you can use the “Tools” button to refine your search according to specific criteria, such as size, color, and image type.

By using filters, you can also help ensure that the images you pick align with the message you would like to convey in your branding efforts.

DON’T alter an image unless explicitly permitted.

When using images for commercial purposes, you must avoid tampering with them unless you have explicit permission from the owner. This means that you should never crop, edit, or add to an image unless the Creative Commons license specifically allows it.

Even if you have obtained an image with a Creative Commons license, if it is edited without the owner’s permission, it becomes a unique work, and the owner can claim copyright on the edited version.

DO credit the image owner whenever needed.

Many images that are available for free use require attribution. Attribution is the act of giving credit to the owner of the image or the website from which you sourced the image.

When using such images, it is important that you give credit as required. Typically, this will involve adding a line of text under the image or on the page, giving credit to the owner.

DON’T assume that crediting an image owner is enough.

While crediting the image owner is essential, it isn’t always enough. You need to make sure that you’re using the image within the terms of the Creative Commons license, which can be different for every image.

Some images may require that you only use them for editorial purposes or only on a particular site. If you use an image beyond the terms of the license, you could be found guilty of copyright infringement, even if you have given credit to the owner.

In conclusion,

Using free images for commercial purposes can be time-saving and cost-effective for businesses. However, it’s important to remember that there are dos and don’ts that you must adhere to when using them to avoid infringing on copyright laws.

When using images, always assume that they are copyrighted until stated otherwise. Seek permission from the owner if unsure, and if an image has a Creative Commons license, read and adhere to its terms.

Finally, always credit the owner of the image whenever required, but remember that this is not enough on its own, and you must ensure that you are using the image according to the terms of the license.