How to find free photos to use on your website legally

by IJNet
Oct 1, 2012 in Journalism Basics

To illustrate their blog posts or news articles on the web, journalists should never resort to copying another site’s photo or graphic without permission.

And yet, “copying images from the Web and using them to illustrate news articles without permission seems to be a global problem,” writes media trainer David Brewer. On his site Media Helping Media, he explains that there is a better way to find and use images.

Why is it important to take the time to follow these steps? Brewer writes: “The benefit is that you know that the images you use are legal, and the photographer gets a link on your site which helps them promote their work--everyone is a winner.”

Here is Brewer’s advice for finding and attributing images on the Web:

Many photographers share their work under a Creative Commons license, which allows others to use an image provided they give credit to the person who created it. Brewer recommends searching photo-sharing site Flickr.

On Flickr, he says, follow these steps: • Enter a description of the kind of image you want in the Flickr search box and hit “return” or “search,” then click on the “advanced search link”

• Scroll down to the bottom of the page where you will see the Creative Commons details

• Check the boxes to specify the type of Creative Commons license that meets your needs. "For example, if you want to crop the picture you will need to click the option that reads "Find content to modify, adapt, or build upon,' " Brewer writes.

• Click "search" again, and you’ll see a selection of images.

• Choose an image and click on it. “When it loads, right-click the image to see the sizes you can download and to check the type of Creative Commons license associated with the picture,” he writes.

• Select the size image you want and download it to your computer.

• Read the conditions of the Creative Commons license carefully, and make sure you comply.

• Copy the Web address of the image and the name of the person who took the picture. When you upload the image to the story, make sure you add an attribution in the image alt and title tags so that people see it when they hold their computer mouse over the image.

• Edit the image for your site only if the Creative Commons license allows it.

Read Brewer’s full blog post here.

This story first appeared on the website of IJNet’s partner, Media Helping Media (MHM), a training information site that provides free media resources for journalists working in transition states, post-conflict countries and areas where freedom of expression and media freedom is under threat.

Image: Screen capture of Creative Commons photos on Flickr.