Feeling confused about where to check in on copyright and creative commons license?

Online curation is still evolving, and we ain’t in Kansas anymore Toto when it comes to checking in on copyright free images!

We have actually come a long way from the early years of the internet and the sneaky pilfering of content from here, there and everywhere.

Every content creator worth their weight in megapixels knows that articles presented with images gains a 47% better click-thru action than content without. However many are not aware that some of those images may just have copyright and licensing fees applied to them.

Photography and The Law

Photography and The Law (Photo credit: Byflickr)


But it doesn’t have to be daunting applying your ethical approach to your online content.

Legal and ethical guidelines have helped manage a sense of lawlessness that has existed in the past, and helps protect the creative commons and ownership of a creators original works.






Next to copy, images cause the most grief for many creators.

And they are also subject to copyright law.

For the uninitiated,  ethical guidelines recommend that you should not reproduce a full image from an original source unless you have requested permission from its original source.  There’s some easy steps to tell if you are using images with copyright and creative commons license.




Get your detective hat on and conduct a licensing search

To help you out you can actually find images which ARE available for application and use by hopping on to the very helpful Creative Commons website

Creative Commons licenses require licensees to get permission to do anything with a work and licensees must credit the licensor, keep copyright notices intact on all copies of the work, and link to the license from copies of the work. The Creative Commons search tool is helpful in investigating a source if you have concerns.

Really it comes down to any work published under a Creative Commons license can be republished in different articles as long as you give credit to the original artists.  Certain licenses require the creator’s permission is required though if you set out to modify an image or using it to advertise paid products.

There’s Creative Commons search sites which  offers easy access to search services provided by other independent organizations however you should always verify that the work is actually under a Creative Commons license by following the link to the original source of content.

If it’s illustrations, sketches or graphic designs that you are after – then head on over to the Creative Commons Section of Deviant Art.

Try a reverse image search

Or, you can check for licensing issues using a few other great options like Tin Eye which allows you to do a reverse image search, or detect which images are licensed.

I’ve also recently discovered Zemanta which helps bloggers and content creators find the perfect image based on a  few key words and terms through image recommendations.

Use thumbnail or royalty-free images

If you don’t want to go down this path, it’s generally seen as approved practise to include a smaller thumbnail image which can also help you tell your story without violating copyright laws.

You can always substitute your choice with a royalty-free image. Flickr and Google’s Advanced search options can help you research alternatives.




There’s plenty of free stock photos online like the one above. This image is thanks to Pierre-Olivier Bourgeois who made his image available on Unsplash.  You’ll find some stand-out stylish free stock on sites like this one, as well as Gratisography and Little Visuals which will help you on your pictorial path to free stock happiness!

Look mum –  no licence

After all your searching, if you’ve determined that an image you’d like to use does NOT  require a license and you have the right to use it, then off you go. Add it to you content and publish, with your conscience eased!

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