5 Ways to (Legally) Use Photos in Social Media and On Your Blog

Evil Murphy Says NO to Copyright Violation -- photo by StaceyWho doesn’t love a cute photo or funny image on the social web?

According to Hubspot’s latest research, Facebook  photo posts get 53% more “likes”, 104% more comments, and links on these posts get 84% more clicks.

Instagram and Pinterest also owe their explosive growth to our collective love of visual content.  Any blogger or social media manager worth his or her salt aims to add compelling images to their posts.

Do you have the rights to use the images you post on line?

Image Copyright: What Are The Rules?

What’s the best way to add photos to your blog or social post, without violating someone else’s copyright?

It’s easy to right click and save images you find online, and for some reason, it doesn’t FEEL as bad as cutting and pasting someone else’s words without permission … but, turns out, the rules for copyright are the same for images as for written content.

You can’t use someone else’s images without permission — simply giving attribution is not enough.

4 Tools to Re-Use Photos and Images, LEGALLY  

Here’s how to find and re-use images and photos:

1.  Search CreativeCommons.org: Rather than explain all the levels of CC permission, you can read about them here.

Select photos with the right level of permission (say, images that allow commercial and derivative use, with attribution), and respect the content creator’s rules for re-use of their work.

A useful search engine for CC photos can be found at search.creativecommons.org,

2.  Flickr Filter and Search Tools:  You can also search over 200 million images on Flickr.com, filtering by different levels of creative commons permission to find the right image for your post.

There are also search engines specially designed to make Flickr photo selection and attribution easier.  For instance, Photopin.com has an easy interface, and works great.

(Their tagline is “Search millions of CreativeCommons photos on Flickr and add them to your blog posts easily.”)

3.  WordPress Plug-ins For Finding and Attributing Images: Suppose you have a WordPress blog, and want to find an image on Creative Commons for re-use?  Try a WordPress plugin designed to search CC and add photos with the right level of permission, without leaving your blog (like PhotoDropper, or  Compfight).

     (Note:  I haven’t tried either yet, but the online reviews seem promising).

4. Google Advanced Image Search:  Google Advanced Image Search also has a filter for images that you are allowed to use:  look under “usage rights”, and select “free to use, share or modify, even commercially”.

5. Take Your Own Photos! If you’re a talented photographer or visual designer, you’re in luck!What could be more engaging and personal, than a picture you took yourself … and there will never be any question about rights!

Takeaway:  Do the Right Thing

From now on, take an extra minute to find and add the right image, while respecting the rights (and wishes) of the content creator.  Just do the right thing!

What about you?  Have you ever used an image without permission? Will these tools help you source images and photos legally for your blog?

PS –   Many earlier posts on this blog have images swiped from Google images.  The point of this post is to share how you can avoid making the same mistake.

With a little extra work this weekend, I’ll fix that.  I’m going through every blog post, deleting improperly used images, and replacing those I don’t have permission to use with others sourced as above.

Note photo credits: MAJTec via photopin cc (for photopin image) … and for main blog image: (Stacey… shared under CC BY-ND license).

Make my day … leave a comment! And, stop by and say hi on my facebook page, where I share marketing tips, opinions, stupid cat photos, and more. Thanks!


About Rhonda Hurwitz

Rhonda Hurwitz is a content strategist and marketing consultant who helps mid-sized businesses develop more effective online strategies. @rhondahurwitz on Twitter, and on Forbes.com: http://blogs.forbes.com/people/rhondahurwitz/
This entry was posted in blogging, content marketing, Social Media Best Practices and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to 5 Ways to (Legally) Use Photos in Social Media and On Your Blog

  1. good stuff, Rhonda! and I’m guilty of this too. Under 5, you might say, “Take your own photos or hire a photographer.” and when hiring one, make sure you are buying the rights to the images for the specific uses you have in mind.

    • Good point, Blake … I appreciate the perspective of a pro. photographer.

      I wonder what it costs to buy rights for a one off use like a blog post or social media post … might be a great solution, and you’d know you were in the clear! A service like Istockphoto or Shutterstock might be a cost effective solution for the non-professional.

  2. Pingback: Reads of the Week: November 30, 2012 « Reid All About It

    • Deirdre … I saw the need to write the post after it was talked about on #blogchat … and most bloggers (myself included) needed some guidance. Thanks for featuring my post in your reads of the week!

  3. Angelina Dulchevska says:

    Guilty as charged. While posting, sharing and resharing images on social media sites, it had never occurred to me that I was violating someone’s copyrights. Thank you, Rhonda, for your blog. I will most certainly find time to explore those Creative Commons websites.

    • It’s a very common mistake. I think actually Getty images has made their images available for free legal reuse since I wrote the original article, so you can check them out. And my new favorite site for graphic creation is Canva.

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