Licenses and copyrights are an important legal matter that can get quite confusing with Google Images tantalizing us at our finger tips. But since we know visual posts are the most engaging content, it is essential to play it safe, understand license terms, and share legal images that will boost your social strategy.
Before we dive into the best places to find these images, think about how you would like to use your photos. Will it be for commercial purposes (to sell something)? If so, look out for royalty-free images. “Royalty free means you are not required to pay a royalty each time you use an image” (Stock Photo Guides). Will it be on social? If so, be weary for what license the image you choose holds.
Here are a few licensing terms images can carry from CreativeCommons.org:
Attribution: Lets others copy, distribute, display and perform copyrighted work – and derivative works based upon it – but only if they give credit.
Noncommercial: Lets others copy, distribute, display, and perform work – and derivative works based upon it – but for noncommercial purposes only.
No Derivative Works: Lets others copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of work, not derivative works based upon it.
Share Alike: Allows others to distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs the work.
Luckily, Creative Commons divides images by license for you to eliminate the guess work.
They are also the first suggestion on our list! Here’s our full list of sources to downloading your visuals easily and legally:
Download for free:
CC is a nonprofit organization that allows images to be downloaded and shared based on the copyright licenses agreed upon by the owner of the image provided. They are in the four categories listed above and are a surefire way to properly use downloaded images.
This option has images free of copyrights and were actually published under Creative Commons public domain deed CC0. This means you can copy, modify and distribute the images, even for commercial purposes. To us, right behind Creative Commons, seems like the best free option at your disposal.
Every Stock Photo
While this image source still allows you to download images for free, each image is license-specific. This means that for every photo searched you are responsible for evaluating the agreements to the license and using the images properly. In other words, this site hosts images that are easy to search, but a bit more tedious to share.
Named after a place, popular in the newspaper business, that keeps past issues flats (post-production copies), this site allows downloading completely for free. The fine print asks you to credit the photographer when possible, not to try to claim the image as your own, and uphold legal content: model and property releases. Other than that, there is free range for modifying considering their audience is primarily made up of designers and illustrators who are using the photos as part of new creations.
Download for a price:
All images on Shutterstock are royalty-free and are Standard License, meaning you can copy the image up to 250,000 times and share on TV, online video or film for up to 250,000 visitors. If you plan on a larger audience, you will have to purchase an Enhanced License. Otherwise, Standard License plans are listed below for your consideration.
Images on Getty Images are mostly purchased by photo. Each photo is either Creative stock or Editorial image and can be searched by royalty-free or rights-managed imagery. If you rather have a subscription, you can tailor a subscription to your best interest by calling their services to design a package that fits your needs.
The simplest option:
Pagemodo Post Designer
Okay, we may be a little biased with this one…But the truth of the matter is that the best way to fully ensure you are sharing safe and legal images is to create the graphic yourself using pre-licensed images. Post Designer allows you to start with a template, a free stock image, or start from scratch to create a powerful and engaging visual. You even have the option of “Save Draft” to come back to it later, or download the graphic to use for other marketing collateral. Think of this tool as an easy-to-use Photoshop that will definitely help in boosting your visual social strategy.
Remember that when creating your own images, you can also in turn share those images on some of the sites provided above, or on your own website. On Webs’ blog, we talked about protecting your own images online – it’s definitely worth a read.
We know we covered a lot of material so if there are any other lingering questions, please ask us in the comments – we’d be happy to answer!
About the Author: Deanna Zaucha is the Content Marketing Coordinator for Webs and Pagemodo, and also manages our social media presence. She can be found on a dance floor, or on her iPhone keeping up with trends in marketing and tech. Get more from Deanna on Pagemodo’s Blog and Google+.