How To Find Photos For Your Blog

Add photos to your blog to boost readership.

Conventional blogger wisdom says that adding photos to your blog posts is one way to increase readership.

But where can you find photos, graphics, or other images for your website?

Option 1. You could just search Google Images and copy any found image to your blog. You could, but such use would not necessarily be legal.

  • If an image is in the public domain (which is often difficult to determine), then you can use it – no permission needed.
  • If your use is fair use, then you can use the image even though it is copyrighted.
  • If the image is copyrighted, if your use is not fair use, and if your use is not licensed permitted use, then you are likely committing copyright infringement.

All of this is a lot easier to explain with a drawing. For more info, see my Drawing That Explains Copyright Law.

Option 2. You could just hotlink to the image so that you are not copying it directly. You could, but you might be a copyjacker. And copyjacking (bad hotlinking) is not necessarily legal. It’s definitely not nice. (See also Batesville Services, Inc. v. Funeral Depot, Inc., 11/10/04.)

Option 3. Use an image licensed under the Creative Commons (see Creative Commons Search). I think that the hardest part about this option is complying with the common “attribution” requirement. It’s harder than it sounds. How do you provide attribution for an image? By including the author’s name in the filename? By proving a link back to the source? By providing copyright info inline with the photo? In the alt text of the img tag?

Option 4. You could purchase some stock images. Stock photography and clip art is readily available on the Internet, is relatively inexpensive, and doesn’t usually require attribution.

I have criticized Freakonomics for choosing Option 1 (Freakonomics using Google images without regard for copyright of fair use), Option 2 (Freakonomics copyjacking and copyjacking’s impact), and for not helping to educate the world about the evils of both options. Freakonomics has now skipped Option 3 and gone straight to Option 4, purchasing stock photography. And now I’m criticizing Freakonomics for not educating the world about the benefits of stock photography.

Freakonomics has been purchasing stock photography from iStockphoto.com. This blurb is from the iStockphoto.com home page:

“iStockphoto® is the world’s preeminent collection of member-generated royalty-free images, at the world’s best prices. There are no subscription fees or extra costs. Just the best Stock Photography, Vector illustrations, and Flash files online, at prices for everyone.”

Content creators can upload photos, graphics, and more to iStockphoto, and users can purchase content for prices ranging from about $1 to $50.

Here is today’s Freakonomics post:

And here is the iStockphoto.com image purchased by Freakonomics:

So the good news is that Freakonomics has gone legit. The bad news is that the Freakonomics team (Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner, Melissa Lafsky, Dee Dee DeBartlo, Suzanne Gluck, Beth Gargano, et al.) is not using their blogging platform to further the conversation and educate the world about why they’ve done so.

FYI, I purchased the photo used in this blog from iStockphoto.com for about $1.

One Reply to “How To Find Photos For Your Blog”

  1. With regards to CC licenses, the attribution element is easier than it seems. It just has to be appropriate for the medium and, on the Web, in a link format. Thus, you would pretty much have to provide it in the post itself. However, it is important to declare that you are using the work under a CC license and and ensure that your use complies with other elements of the license.

    Second, one more option to consider is using a site such as sxc.hu that has free stock photos for the Web. It’s a great site with hundreds of thousands of photos.

    Hope that helps!

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