Understanding Photo licensing
There are many sources for free photos and images on the web that can provide visual content to help you improve your hubs and blogs / websites. In this hub I outline the main license types and models that exist allowing use of images without payment or the need for negotiating useage, but still usually with some conditions attached.
The starting point for all creative content is "all rights reserved' traditional copyright. A copyrighted image may still be given for free use but this need to be requested and agreed by the copyright holder. The following licensing methods make using images simpler as the copyright holder has expressly granted permission for them to be used by offering them under a license allowing this.
Good photos can make your hub much more appealing
Limited Royalty Free Licenses
Images offered under standard Royalty Free Licenses are not free! The term is confusing but the word free here indicates the freedom for an image buyer to reuse an image without having to renegotiate license fees as would be the case with a traditional Rights Managed stock photograph. For a fuller explanation of RF and RM licensing see here.
For the purposes of this hub the point to note is that many sources of RF stock photography do offer some of their content for free use. These images will be available on a distinct limited RF license and their use may be restricted in some form, for instance the maximum print run of a printed product allowed may be relatively small. If you're after web sized images for a hub this isn't going to worry you overly!
A common business model amongst free image providers is to provide small versions of the images for free but charge for full high resolution file sizes. This can be seen at freedigitalphotos.net for example. Again if content for web publishing is your need many of these small images will be useful.
It is also worth remembering to check the microstock photography websites as most now have collections of free images available and these are often offered at full resolution size but with some restrictions of a more limited license. Dreamstime for example maintain a fairly extensive collection of images that are available to download for free. Shutterstock on the other hand take a different approach, with usually a couple of images being made available for free each week, so if you do regularly need fresh pictures its worth keeping an eye on the site as the offer is always changing! A guide on the best microstock sites for free images can be found here.
Public Domain Photos
Photos placed in the public domain are free to use without limitations, including commercial use. The issue to be aware of with PD images is that while the photographer may have decided to place the image in the public domain that may not make it entirely safe to use. If a photo shows recognisable individuals or property it would be wise to be careful unless relevant model and/or property releases are available. A common problem is where logos and branding are visible in a photo. In these cases the images shouldn't really be in the public domain; so don't use them.
Creative Commons Licenses
There are numerous creative commons licenses available covering a range of possible permitted uses. The basic idea behind CC licenses is to facilitate creators in easily allowing uses of their work they are happy with. Click here for more info on CC licenses. So it is important to carefully note the particular creative commons license that an image is being offered under in order to not inadvertantly break the terms. A very common CC license to be found allows use of images in return for 'attribution', which basically means linking back to the authors site or profile where you found the image to give them credit. Unless I'm missing something it isn't possible to include hyperlinks in hub photo capsules so this attribution either has to be the caption or, as I've done in this hub, you can include a credits box.
When using CC images on hubpages it is important to look out for a common restriction on commercial use. If you publish a hub that will include advertising on the page then that counts as commercial, so these CC images would no longer be available for free use.
So, where do you find creative commons photos and images? Well Flickr is the go to destination for these free photos. Here's a step by step guide with screenshots to finding free photos on Flickr.
Hopefully this hub has given you a basic understanding of photo licensing and the knowledge to find photos and images you can legally use for free in your hubs and own websites.
Aiden on June 22, 2012:
i try to get some images and clip-arts at kozzi.com when its pretty cool because there a lots of categories that i can choose of. So I grant if you use this site you will like to specially all the image are free.
alexhd57 (author) on May 19, 2012:
Hey, glad this hub is still proving useful!
April P Clemens from VT on May 19, 2012:
Ah, thanks so much to the author and commenters! I was struggling with this problem yesterday, trying to find some free and fitting images for my articles.
After finding a few sites that advertised images for free, I was perplexed when they actually weren't.
Now I can embellish!
~Best regards :)
Brish on April 30, 2012:
Flickr is also good provider of stock photos. But, I have one site know that can give more high resolution of images and great shots of free stock photos. It is Kozzi.com you can visit the site and download all the image that you want.
ssteinberger on March 16, 2012:
Great collection - thanks! My recommendation: Pixabay.com - it's another resource for public domain images. My personal favorite, because no attribution is necessary and most images are just great quality.
sam70 on June 13, 2011:
Thanks for your picture link ideas.
Lenny Rinen from Auckland, New Zealand on May 20, 2011:
Hi! I am a newbie and this helps a lot, thanks for sharing, awesome!
Thelma Raker Coffone from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on April 13, 2011:
As a newcomer to hubpages this has helped me a great deal. There is so much to learn! Thanks for sharing your knowledge.
Joanne Bryant from New Zealand on April 02, 2011:
Thanks for the useful tips. This was great.
BooksGalore from Hawaii on February 03, 2011:
Thanks for being willing to share your knowledge.
thesweetlife from San Diego, California on January 16, 2011:
I am new to hubpages, so this was very useful, thank you!
Wriggling Writer from Essex (UK) on November 29, 2010:
Thanks - this is very useful information!
alexhd57 (author) on November 25, 2010:
Looks like a useful resource Cascoly. It's a win-win situation with you offering images and getting the link promotions in return; good job, I hope it proves worthwhile for you.
cascoly from seattle on November 24, 2010:
i'm relatively new to hubpages but have been a stock photographer for 40 years. i allow anyone to use my images on hubpages if they just include a credit.
AnthonyJ.Langford from Sydney, Australia on November 20, 2010:
Thanks very much for the info. Extremely handy!
darhackney on July 16, 2010:
Thank you very much ! Your explanation was very useful !
Ezeh Izuchukwu 'Sirwar' Williams from Enugu, Nigeria on July 11, 2010:
Thanks very much for the info. I will be linking to your page from mine.
Jenifer L from california on July 02, 2010:
thanks for the info--
very well written and easy to understand, too
iAccuse on June 09, 2010:
Thanks for taking the time to share this info, it's very helpful.
svetits from United Kingdom on June 07, 2010:
Great hub with rich information. Cheers alexhd57.
alexhd57 (author) on March 13, 2010:
You're welcome guys, and thanks for reading.
catalystsnstars from Land of Nod on March 12, 2010:
That really did help, thank you.
Cherri Brown-Jett from Richmond on February 25, 2010:
Thanks for your help. I will take your advice. I need all the help I can get.