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Using Images and Photos Legally On Your Website

How to Legally Use Photos On Your Website

When you are building your own website, you will want to add in photos. But how do you know if you are allowed? Where do you find photos for your website? How do you put photos legally on your website?

The Internet is full of photos and they seem to be freely available but mostly it is illegal to just steal these photos. Somehow you need to get permission to use photos on a website.

Take Your Own Photos

Nobody can argue this one, if you took the photos, you own the copyright and can do what you like! It might take a little longer, but it's worth it. If you took the photo, you have permission to use photos on a website. You can also look into selling your photos online for others to use, making a little extra on the side's always a handy way to cover your time/cost.

Buy a License

Whenever a photographer takes a photo, they own the copyright. To use a photograph you need the photographer's permission to use photos on a website. Permission is given to use the photograph in certain ways and for a period of time. What you do is buy a license to use the photos.

Royalty Free Stock Images

More recently a newer way to buy photos to use has become widespread, a more affordable way, with photos for sale under £1 each. "Royalty Free".

With royalty free photos, you buy them once and can then use and re-use without paying for them again. There are still some restrictions on how you can use the photos, but what you can do with them is much broader.

Note that this is royalty free, meaning you pay no further royalties. It does not mean the photo is free.

Rights Managed Photo Libraries

Traditionally, photos were sold as Rights Managed. This would mean you would negotiate a fee to use a photograph for a set period of time in very specific ways. For example "Use for 2 years on my website only". This would mean after 2 years you'd have to remove the photo from your website, or buy it again to continue using it. It would also mean you couldn't use the photo in other ways, for example in your flyers or leaflets. Prices would range from £30-500 per photo or more

Rights managed photo libraries are labour intensive because every image has to be negotiated, paperwork raised and invoices sent/checked.  As a labour-intensive industry, and with previously limited availability of images available for use, photos and other images used to be a lot more expensive than they are today.

Using Stock Libraries & Image Libraries

In the last couple of years a myriad of stock photo agencies have sprung up and you can now buy royalty free photos to use on your website for under £1/$1 each. With these you buy them once and can use and re-use the photos for a lifetime on your website as well as in your flyers and advertising.

Most of the major stock libraries will  have a variety of different licenses you can buy, under which you can use the images for commercial use as well as non-commercial.  If you're not sure what license you need then just contact the stock library to double-check, it's best to tell them exactly what you're trying to do, so they give the right advice though! Don't try to mask your intentions, they're not going to steal your ideas.

What Size/Resolution Images Do You Need For a Website?

When you look for images for your website, you will want the resolution to be 72dpi. Most stock libraries will sell photos in two resolutions, 72dpi for websites and 300dpi for print. This is because a computer screen has only 72 dots per inch but a printing press will print documents at 300 dots per inch. If you use a 300dpi image on your website then you will be slowing down the whole site as the photos take ages to download - and your website visitor may give up and go elsewhere.

You will need to compare the size (in inches/cm) that you want to use the photo with the size it is for sale. If the photo for sale is larger than you need, you can re-size it down. If you want the photo larger you will be able to make it larger using computer software - although if you are going to want it considerably larger you might need a designer to do this for you.

You only need a 72dpi image for use on a website, but if you will also use the image in printed material, then look for 300dpi.

Remember: if the original image is 1cm square at 300dpi, then it would be OK on a website stretched to about 4cm square because as you're stretching it in either direction, you're reducing the number of dots it has per inch! Not the best way to do things, it's best to have the image at the right size to start with, but it's all really working on basic maths, so you can get away with that.

Using Website Photos for Commercial Use

When stock libraries say they are not for commercial use, this does not mean that you can't use them in your website. What this means is that you cannot benefit commercially from the photo - so that would be, for example, if you were creating web templates for resale, or producing canvas prints for resale, or printing the photo onto mugs for resale. Most stock agencies will have an Extended Rights License available for you to do these things - every photo and every stock agency will have different rules so just be aware and check.

If you are simply using the photos on your website or in your flyers, leaflets etc then this won't be considered commercial use and a standard license would be enough.

Google Advanced Image Search - Labeled for Reuse

Google Advanced Image Search - Labeled for Reuse

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Using Google Image Search to Find Photos You Can Use

You can use Google to search for photos that you can use on your website. Once you have found an image for your website you will then just need to quickly check how you can use it, many require a link back to their site for you to do this.

To use Google Image search to find photos to use on your website legally, simply:

  • Go to google
  • Click on the images link/tab
  • Click on Advanced Image Search
  • Close to the bottom there is a drop down box for Usage Rights, click that and you will want to choose Labeled for Reuse.
  • Choose the search words and other criteria you want in the top half of the page
  • Click the GOOGLE SEARCH button at the top
  • You will now only see images that have been marked as able to be reused.

Free Photos on Morguefile

There are lots of free photos you can legally use n your website, on a website called Morguefile. Their free license is very clear.

You can read an article taking you through it step by step: Using Morguefile Free Images

Morguefile contains free high resolution digital stock photographs and reference images for either corporate or public use. The purpose of this site is to provide free image reference material for illustrators, comic book artist, designers, teachers and all creative pursuits.

Morguefile is easy to use and ideal for bloggers, article writers and similar.

Get Free Photos from Flickr

Flickr is a site that professional and amateur photographers around the world use to show off their photos. Most of these will not be available for you to use, they're just there for the photographer to show people their photos.

However, when photographers upload their photos to flickr they have a tick box they can tick that marks the photo as available for use under the Creative Commons license, which to you means "free to use". Most will still require you to link back to their photo to say where you got it from.

To search these photos go here: Flickr Creative Commons Photos

Free Images, No Attribution:

The photos in this group are available for use by anyone. There is no need to give credit or to fear rights infringement. These images are posted by their creators. By posting to this group, you're allowing freedom of use. We believ3 in honesty and freedom. Post your pictures here if you'd like to help set great images free for presentations, re-interpretation and connecting with others. It's kind to contact the creator if you have the time.

Free Images With No Attribution

If you want free images, with no attribution, simply free images where you don't have to link back to the photographer, then there is a Flickr group containing photos you can use.

The website is at:

Once there, scroll down and you will see a search box.

Using Images and Photos Legally: Creative Commons Search

Using Images and Photos Legally: Creative Commons Search

Search Creative Commons

There's a handy search for images and photos you can legally use on your website at

Simply type in your search term in the top, then make sure the two boxes are ticked for

  • "use for commercial purposes"
  • "modify, adapt or build upon"

The results you get should meet these criteria, but you do need to then just double-check and see what attribution you need to make, if any.


Places to Find Free Images for your Website

For those of you still stuck, here's a further list of places to find free images for your website:

Free Digital Photos have clearly set out rules in using their photos. Check out their FAQ section. So long as you're using images in an approved way, and you are providing a link to the photographer, these are free images with permission to use on a website.

Flickr Creative Commons Free Pictures - a great way to backlink to your hub too, as you can leave a comment in there to say "I've used your photo here....."

Registered, free, members can get four specific free photos per week. iStockPhoto is a microstock photo library, so you could buy photos from them for under $1. They offer 4/week because it'll keep you going back to their site and they hope one day you'll buy from them instead of just seeing what's free this week.

Image*After is a large online free photo collection. You can download and use any image from their site and use it in your own work, either personal or commercial

Quite a limited selection, but you might find just the free photos you're looking for.

I didn't find too many here that suit my needs - be aware that they're really trying to get you to use dreamstimestock, which you'd pay for.

A free to use, public domain photo database, containing thousands of images.

The pictures are free for you to use. I quite like this one for generic web images representing business, money, etc.

Remember: Always attribute the image to the photographer. They've taken the time to make their photos available for you to use - do them the courtesy of attributing/backlinking back to their photo or their website. For me, it's non-negotiable! It's web courtesy and mostly a legal requirement for you to use them free.

Twitter Photo Sharing

Twitter is rolling out a new photo sharing feature, so I thought I'd mention it here, for those of you who are looking to use images legally on your website or in your blog.

The photos that come through Twitter photo sharing are owned by the person who took the photo and uploaded it. They don't belong to Twitter. Twitter photo sharing images are not in the public domain.

This means that you can't use them for your own purposes,unless you actually ask the original photographer for that permission.

Take Your Own Photos

If you take your own photos, then you own the copyright. You can do what you like with them. They are yours.

Taking your own photographs is so much easier these days as you can use an iPhone, slipped into your pocket - and simply get it out and take photos where you get the chance. It can be annoying if you've got a camera to stumble across the perfect photo opportunity, if only you'd brought your camera out. If you use an iPhone then it's simple - and as everybody's snapping photos of things all the time you can do it discretely.


  • Get your photos from stock photo libraries, you'll get a much greater choice of professionally produced photos
  • Check the license to see how you can use the photos, this is more important if you've got free photos for your website as it's easier with stock libraries to be sure
  • Ensure you buy the right resolution for your use, you need a higher resolution if you're printing out a photo
  • Check the physical size of the photo for sale and compare that to the size you need to reproduce it at

Good luck with using photos legally on your website!


Dale Anderson from The High Seas on May 24, 2019:

Wonderful hub here, it's going to be of so much use. Thank you!

Ardith Smith from Michigan on April 25, 2018:

Nice and good article thank you for sharing.

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on May 16, 2016:

Yes villete, the best way to put photos legally on your website is by taking a photo by yourself - but, as you say, that takes time - and that's if you have access to the scene at all. It can be difficult, if you want to include something you've no access to.

Vicky on March 16, 2016:

The best way is taking photo by yourself though it takes time. One thing I realised while reading your hub. Thanks!

vkwendy on January 13, 2015:

Thank you for this article - I found it helpful/excellent. I am building a new website which is non-commercial and was navigating all those free images found online trying to work out which ones were genuinely ok to use versus just pirated from somewhere else. Your article helped a lot.

danicole from United States on April 22, 2014:

Thank You These are some good tips/info!!!

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on October 19, 2013:

No, you cannot use old ebay listings photos. Those images belong to the person who made the listing + they might have stolen them from somebody else.

Harg85 on October 12, 2013:


I was wondering if you could use old ebay auction pictures for your websites articles and reviews.

Example if my web site was about footballs and I was doing a review for my website on brand name football. Could I use an ebay ended auction picture for that article on that brand football that was being reviewed..


Brett H. on October 12, 2013:

I have a question about using a ebay auction pictures for reviews on my website. Example I have a name brand golf club review and I use an auction picture from ebay in that review for that brand of club. Is that illegal.

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on September 21, 2013:

No idea. Vintage photography would come under different rules though. It's still a question of copyright, but some might be in the public domain.

Your question cannot be answered as you linked to an irrelevant page and didn't form your question in a way that I can understand what you're asking, specifically.

There are old photos for sale on that site, again, it would depend on where the photos came from. If they were reprints from a photo, it's possible it'd be wrong. If they're genuinely old it'd be OK. If they were public domain, or the seller held the copyright it'd be OK.

Victoria on September 20, 2013:

Is this site legally selling (reselling) vintage photography? Example:

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on June 01, 2013:

Hi Naslin

It's good to see you're thinking about these things, but using such images would leave you open to a lot of problems.

The images belong to whoever created them - a photographer or a designer. You'd need to contact them to get their permission/ask if you can use them.

When using people, the laws will depend on where the photos were taken and where you're based. The bottom line is: if people are in photos you have to consider if a Model Release document is needed to have been signed - and, if so, you'd need to get permission to re-use that image for that reason too.

When using images of well-known/famous people you are very likely to run into problems of image ownership.

Sorry to say, your plan is flawed. You need to find another way to get photographs and images for your website.

naslin on June 01, 2013:

hye. i am going to start a new business. And i am on my way to develop my website. It's just a small business in a small town. I wonder, is it okay if i use the wallpaper in google image search. My business is all about jewelries and accessories. the problem is, i don't have any models for my items. Therefore i simply use the picture of a model such as megan fox in my website. Does it count as using the picture for commercial or making profit? As far as I know, the picture is just to make the website looks good and exclusive. I'm sorry if my language is not very good, i'm from Malaysia.

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on May 25, 2013:

Hi Cornmaster

You own the copyright to the images, so you can use them. You don't need their permission at all.

Note: unless the site you uploaded them to was sneaky and included something about you giving them copyright. This is unusual, but does happen. You've not said which website you uploaded your pics to.

OthetleShath on April 10, 2013:

Hello! I could have sworn I've been to this website before but after reading through some of the post I realized it's new to me. Nonetheless, I'm definitely glad I found it and I'll be book-marking and checking back frequently! registry cleaners

cornmaster on March 17, 2013:


I shared my pictures and recipes in a website then I left it for some issues, I didn't get paid for any thing of them and I want to make my own website so can I use them again or I have to get a permission from them because they kept them and I don't have a problem with that

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on September 24, 2012:

The photographer who took the photo of your dog owns the copyright. You would need to get their permission to use the photo in any way.

If somebody has used an image on a website that doesn't mean you can alsos use that image on that website; they might have asked permission and paid for that use. You need to get permission from the owner of the photograph.

nonprofitwebsitedesigner on September 11, 2012:

Hello, I am trying to clarify an issue with a photo and I hope you can help me. lets say I have a photo of my dog that someone else took and I want to use it on a non profit website in a story. Would that be considered fair use? And also, if a photo has been used on that same website by a different website designer, can it be used again without question?

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on June 06, 2012:

It would depend on the image, how much you intended to use, the terms under which you bought the license.

If you ask Shutterstock this question exactly they will answer precisely.

Ennovation on June 06, 2012:


Great questions and responses. I wanted to ask the same question again in simple words.

If i buy an image from shutterstock, and use it as PART of the logo for a new company i'm setting up (which means it will be used in websites,letterheads,invoices etc); Is it legal?

Thanks in advance...

topaz blue on May 09, 2012:

Many thanks for a very interesting and informative hub, especially for a newbie.

Cynthia on May 04, 2012:

Hi. Thanks for everyone's info - very informative.

My question, I think sort of answered in places but still: If someone working for an informational website company takes pictures of various animals (cats, dogs, horses, etc.) in public places (at shows, fairs, zoos, etc. that are open to anyone to come to) and puts them on that website as examples of their breed/species (ie, this is a Tabby cat, this is a Quarter Horse, this is a Collie), but DOES NOT use the animal or owner's names, NEVER sells the photos or any derivations of them, but DOES receive advertising income from the site (those ads have nothing to do with these pictures), is that acceptable without a release from whomever legally owns the animals? I know that in almost all states animals are considered to be property. I know that the photographer would own the copyright to the pictures. I think I know that advertisement and other income not directly tied to the informational pictures does not make using them on the site "commercial." Still, just want a sanity check. Many thanks!

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on April 13, 2012:

Joycelyn - the law will be different in every country.

In the UK, for example, it's usually legal to take photos if you are on public land and you can use them any how you like, so long as you don't misrepresent what they show. If you label the photos or write captions that could be defamatory, wrong, or libellous then you could be in trouble.

If, however, you snapped some top people coming out of buildings or walking along the street, and are just saying "Look whose photos I have" then it's your copyright and you've broken no laws.

In France, however, you can't take photos of people like that!

You need to ask a photography group in your local area to be clear.

Joycelyn on March 30, 2012:

I have taken photos with a group of people including public figures and later uploaded it to my website & Facebook. Can the public figure take action against me?? It is against the cyber law??

Dan on January 23, 2012:


I have made a website for my company who do shop fitting. All the images i have used are owned by us and have been taken by our engineers on site. The problem is that some of the photos have supermarket bags and signs that have colours, logos and names of sainsbury and Tesco. These are not the main shot of the photo, just visable in the background. Is this ok? Im in England by the way. Please email a reply to


Melissa on January 12, 2012:

I was working as a kitchen designer for a kitchen dealer and took many photographs of my design work while working there. I used my own camera. I quit and started my own business. Is it legal to use those images for my website as part of my life's accumulated portfolio of design? My previous employer is sue happy.

Ken on January 09, 2012:

I have a question - I am trying to build a mixed martials website - the leading organization in this sport is called the UFC. The UFC are known to be the biggest copyright enforcers on the planet - having made examples of many people for showing their videos without permission(s). I have an image question - which i'd like to know before seeing how quick UFC is to clamp down on being using images. #1 - can i use the UFC logo, unaltered on my website with the copyright symbol left on - i see tons of other sites doing it, but i don't want to assume - i especially see stores doing this - stores that don't even order products off UFC but may carry their products throught third party distributors. Now here's my main question - I am building a banner for the main page of the website where I would like to use a couple UFC event posters - can i take a picture of my own posters i bought and post those pictures on my site? it would really be no different then posting a picture of a Toronton Maple Leaf jersey on kijiji or ebay that i am selling - would i get nailed by the NHL for taking a pic of one of their items and posting it? i just dont know where the line is drawn - and you can go nuts reading for weeks the info online on this subject. any help would be appreciated!

Iluvknowledge on December 21, 2011:

Very informative article, however I have a question that has not yet been asked and reading through all the posts did not provide a clear answer. I am hoping you can provide one.

I own a new social network website and one of the features available to our members (it's 100% free to sign up - we do not make money off of profiles) is the ability to add a background image to your profile. If one of our members... let's say for example... wants to add an image of their favorite musical artist that they found on the internet to their profile as a background. What would be the legality of this situation and how does it affect me as the website's owner and how does it affect the member who uploaded it? As my website is growing it's going to eventually be impractical as well as extremely time consuming to try and track down every background image uploaded and make a just decision as to whether or not it needs to be removed. Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on November 25, 2011:

Some image libraries will allow you to use low-res images for this purpose, free of charge. Your buyer could then buy the high-res images themselves.

Check each of your preferred image libraries for this option.

It's a form of marketing for them - it's usually used when a web designer is showing 2-3 website designs to a client before they choose the one they want. A designer would then just buy the images for the website their client chose.

John on November 25, 2011:

Thanks for the article.

I've got a question, I want to create templates in order to sell them, but if I use photographies I found on the internet is to use them as temporary images, only to help me sell. For example, photo gallery website, whoever is going to buy the template will remove all the photographies from the gallery and put her/his own photos, so I think I won't be selling the photography itself I don't own, but I'm not sure sure ? Thanks again.

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on November 25, 2011:

Hi Merryll

When you're dealing with a photo of a painting, then the copyright belongs to the photographer who took the photo (or their employer if they were employed). For this reason the correct response is that you should contact the art gallery to let them know you want to use the image.

It might be, for example, that the art gallery don't own the copyright, but they bought a "license to use" the images themselves - and within that license they will have restrictions; one restriction that might exist is that they wouldn't be allowed to give permission for the images to be used.

It's a right pain in the butt, but somebody took the photo and that person owns the copyright - and that is their job, their income, their livelihood.

If you're producing a book, then you need to do the right thing because any ONE of the image owners saying "no" once you've gone to print could cost you dearly!

Good luck with the book.

merryll on November 23, 2011:

I googled " paintings+ keywords related to the topic of my book". Many paintings appear. Do I have to contact the painter (if he/he's still alive) or the art gallery (if he/she has passed away) or is it enough for me to put the paintings in my book then write the link completely under the picture and in the bibliography?Thank you.Please help.

aman on November 17, 2011:

my name is aman.i live in pakistan in dinga. my father is a journalist.i am a banker.

yasminmahrous on November 15, 2011:

I’m a blogger, I want to use some fashion photos and some celebrities photos, can I use the photos and just disclose the source or the name of the photographer?

And if yes, can I write a new Article or I have to use the same article as the source?

Fidos Friend on November 14, 2011:

Thank you Earner for all of this information. I need images of dogs for my website and all of this copyright thing is so confusing. With your info I think I've got the right path to go on now. Don't know how many pages I searched before I found this one. Excellent.

Sean on November 09, 2011:

What would be the correct documentation to receive when buying a photo for your website from a re-seller of photographs?

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on November 08, 2011:

Hi Ariyan

If you use images of posters on your site, they are still the copyright of the original designer - even if you take a photograph of the poster yourself to use.

You should at least give attribution (and a link to the source of the image), but the correct answer is to contact the organisations/celebrities and let them know about your site.

Every image is owned by somebody and you need to find out their rules for using it on your site.

Ariyan on November 07, 2011:

Hi I am thinking to make a website about Bollywood celebrities, its going to give information about the movies and stars can i use the posters of the movies are there any legal complications regarding that.. and is there a way i can use some Bollywood celebrity photographs available on the internet in celebrity profiles?\

Jason F Marovich from Detroit on November 04, 2011:

Thank you for this great information.

Diego on November 03, 2011:

Earner thank you so much for such a quick response. I think it's a good advice and I'll do what you suggest. All the best for you!

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on November 03, 2011:

Hi Diego

Your solution of providing attribution and a link would seem the most sensible way forward for you.

Technically you should contact the manufacturers etc, but your solution is polite and will probably be OK. If somebody did contact you to say "remove my photo from your website" then at least they'd see you as an accommodating person, rather than immediately hitting you with a legal notice on the assumption that you were thieving the images without care.

As your site grows it'd be nice if you could create an email template to say you're using the images, let them know where and that you've provided a link/attribution and hope they don't tell you to remove them.

All the best.

Diego on November 03, 2011:

Hi. This is a great resource. I'm building a site on photography and other disciplines and want to have a section on items such as cameras, lenses, tripods, adapters, filters and many other items from many different brands and manufacturers so that it is not practical to contact each and every one of them. The idea is to have a brief description of each item and a picture of it. I won't ever have those items so I can't take my own pictures. Can I writte something like "this is the manufacturer's image of this item" to introduce their pictures together with links to their sites? Thank you very much!

thefont on October 19, 2011:

You are mistaken about what constitutes commercial use. For instance if Flickr creative commons pics say not for commercial use you cannot put them on a hubpages or squidoo page if you make any money from it. That constitutes commercial use.

Uth Video on October 19, 2011:

It's fine to have other content on your author website or blog, but make sure that it's really easy to find a description of your book and a link directly to a place where customers can buy the book.

sheela kumari on October 19, 2011:

I don want to say about any picture, I want to say about india's poor people who are not able to eat food daily I want to say about that child he has no milk for take so please help them it's request form my side say our govt so care them it's very needfull.

Cheri on October 15, 2011:

Hi..I have a question about vintage art that's in the public domain. When someone offers them for you to use, they always note that they're public domain,and say you're free to use them any way you wish and even for commercial use, as long as you don't sell them on a collage or as is. My question is this: So how much are you required to alter it? Is only adding a border acceptable?

budi on October 11, 2011:

it's very useful. but i'm confuse, if the image for affiliate member purpose, can i copy it to my site rather than link to original site ? thanks

Riikon on October 11, 2011:

Hi!! .. its an excellent post and reading all the comments was even more helpful thanks!! .. but I still have some doubts.. I have checked that site like,maxim,FHM,Esquire,playboy etc all have copyrighted images.. but i still see many other sites like chickipedia, huffingtonpost, ,theslingshot, guysim etc using these copyrighted pics .. now i know that they have got a lot of cash so they might be buying the licenses but the thing is they have grown into very big sites now and have a lot of cash to spend but it was not the case when they were smaller .. what did they do then? .. how did they get permissions to use the images then?.. is there someway to use those images freely??.. as in to credit the site from which it has been taken.. or any other way around?.. plz help

Eddy4294 on October 10, 2011:

If any one is still answering the questions pertaining to putting pictures on your own website then my question is; I am starting a website for sports social networking, I need pro-sports scenes for basically decorating the site, I am not selling their pictures or products, I just need some background pics.

3 questions.

Do I still need to contact them? If I use the google pics under reuse am I safe to assume that I wont have to answer to any legal problems? Also, unless some one seen their pic on my site how would they know to come after me? Thanks for considering aswering this.

Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on October 07, 2011:

There is so much to learn. I thought Google had the details somewhere but didn't know where to click. Have bookmarked this for future reference. Excellent guide. Thank you very much! I am forever a fan!

Les Trois Chenes from Videix, Limousin, South West France on October 02, 2011:

Thanks so much for this excellent guide. I'm terrified of using images incorrectly so am largely stuck with wikimedia and spend ages perusing the small print. Or I take my own pics which is rather limiting and not top notch quality. I'll bookmark this for future use.

Ruth Anderson from Boston, MA on October 01, 2011:

Thanks so much for writing this Hub. It was so informative and had all the answers I was seeking. You did some good research and laid it all out in a very easy to read way.

rob coleman on September 26, 2011:

A friend of the family recently (last three months) started his own business photgraphing weddings.

at this point I should make the following things clear;

1. our wedding was in 2007.

2. He was there as a guest.

3. We employed two companies to video and photograph respectivley

on his site without asking our permission he has a couple of photos of our wedding in his "2011 Collection" porfolio.

I have asked his to remove them via facebook post and today an official e-mail.

I just need to know where I stand legally?

Can I ask him to remove them?

what happens if the company who took our photos who have us on their site see them?

thanks in advance.



he has decided

Sara Johnson on September 26, 2011:

Thank you so much for such valuable information! I was wondering if I can use a licensed image for commercial use by adding changes with the help of Adobe Photoshop? what I'd like to know is after making changes to let's say any Google image with the use of Photoshop(e.g:changing color of the original and change it to my own colors), will i still be needing permission from the copyright personnel? Thank you,I'll highly appreciate your help.

megan on September 19, 2011:

if i post a picture, let's say from victorias secret, can i just put at the bottom "image source: victoria's secret"? is that a legite way to get out of the copyright thing??

britney on September 19, 2011:

I am starting a blog and I have a few questions...

-Am I allowed to put a link on my if I want to show an outfit or video from, is it ok to put the link up?

-Am I able to upload vidoes on youtube without permission?


Remy Francis from Dubai on September 01, 2011:

Hey earner Thank you for the great tips and links...I was going to use a picture - which was not created by me for the first time on my blog to refer to a movie, and then the need to read up rights to images we see on the web came up. I put a google search and voila! I was glad to see a hubpages article on the front page of Google search...Congrats! And of course I found my answer after I read your hub. Thank you.

Steve on August 24, 2011:

What rights does the person in the photo have? I have been asking for images of myself to be removed from a particular website for approx 6 months now with no avail. Is there anything I can do to get these images removed? I was never paid for the images and the business is indirectly making money off of my images. What are my options if any?

Clara on August 20, 2011:

Great article, thanks!

Fareeha on August 19, 2011:

I am creating my own perfumes sale website where i would sale branded perfumes. For that purpose i want high quality images of those branded perfumes, can i copy those images from the official branded perfume sites since i am selling their product, which i have bought through wholesalers.

ParodyFairUse on August 15, 2011:

Parody is treated slightly different. The above link is great, but also check out wikipedia's article:

FairUse on August 15, 2011:

I comes down to fair use.

Measuring Fair Use: The Four Factors

Unfortunately, the only way to get a definitive answer on whether a particular use is a fair use is to have it resolved in federal court. Judges use four factors to resolve fair use disputes, shown in detail at link. It’s important to understand that these factors are only guidelines that courts are free to adapt to particular situations on a case?by?case basis. In other words, a judge has a great deal of freedom when making a fair use determination, so the outcome in any given case can be hard to predict.

The four factors judges consider are:

* the purpose and character of your use

* the nature of the copyrighted work

* the amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and

* the effect of the use upon the potential market.

joeguy on August 14, 2011:

Can someone help?

I have a pic I took of a local monument, which happens to be a corporation. Can you believe it. Like the Statue of Liberty Corporation, but not that one. It's not a governmental one (it's the Space Needle).

I'm writing a satirical blog and use photoshop to alter my own photos and parody the political scene.

If I took the pic - and I'm not gaining profit - I bet I have to STILL get permission, right. Btw, this isn't FUN AT ALL!!! Doing all this research.

PWalker281 on July 25, 2011:

Thanks so much for this useful information and for taking the time to answer all the questions you've received on this topic.

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on July 09, 2011:

The words "for commercial use" are the most misunderstood - and any photographer needs to understand how the organisation holding their photos translate it. Likewise, if you're providing a platform for photographers to sell their images you need to understand it too.

Ads on your site doesn't make it commercial. If you took an image and used it to create your own ads (online or offline), then that would be commercial use.

Google say "Labeled for commercial reuse

Your results will only include images labeled with a license that allows you to copy the image for commercial purposes, in ways specified in the license. " which means you would have to refer to the originating photographer/site to find out what their terms would be. And you can expect to be charged for these.

If in doubt, ask. That's always the way :)

Liam on July 08, 2011:

Hey there;

Great wealth of information, and thanks for taking the time to respond to most commenters. Sucking up aside, I am starting up a music and gadget blog, and like everyone else, have questions about images.

I see Google Images' Advanced Search has both a Reuse and a Commercial Reuse dropdown menu selection. What is the definition of commercial - do i need to be selling something on my site, or is money from ads legally considered commercial?

How does Google get away with showing the search results for all of the images for images that aren't filtered by reuse/license?

celebritie on June 20, 2011:

I have always wondered about celebrity photos.

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on June 13, 2011:

I hope I can help a little bit on your huge query :)

1] Can you photograph brand name items in order to review them on your site?

There's no "one answer fits all" here - it will be down to each individual organisation whether they allow their brand/logo to be used - and how far they want to pursue it if they discover you. What is allowed/not will vary from company to company. A microstock forum would be able to help you with this probably, on a per brand basis.

2] Most image libraries prohibit the showing of any brand/logo in images as part of their blanket policy. This prevents them getting caught up in the middle if [a] a company doesn't allow their brand/logo to be photographed [b] if a buyer of the image uses it in a detrimental way to the original brand. So, in the case of online/image libraries, it's more about the libraries having to have strict rules to make their business easier.

Big brands will have entire departments set up to protect their brand and their image, so the chances of being discovered are quite high in the medium-long term.

So, again, my advice to you is to join a microstock forum, perhaps in Google groups. And/or see if the question's already been covered in such a forum by Googling terms such as: +"I am a photographer" +"reebok logo"

I hope that helps.

Brenda on June 12, 2011:

Thanks for all the excellent information. I have a further question that I hope you might know the answer to. I intend to buy some products and then photograph them and post those photographs on a website. From there I will be critiquing the products in the photos. The products will be identifiable as far as brand goes.

So let's say I buy a pair of Nike runners and a pair of Reebok runners, photograph them, publish the photos and then do a product review of each runner. Am I allowed to do that?

I understand I have ownership over the goods and the photographs, I'm just not sure if it's fine for me to do what I'm describing because I've discovered there are absolutely zero brands visible on thousands and thousands of images in stock photo libraries and I don't understand why. I'm concerned that it could be about unfairly 'leveraging' the brand in this example, the Nike and Reebok brands. I hope I'm making sense and that you have some idea of whether it's ok or not. I feel it should be ok because I'm the owner of the products and photos but I just wondered about whether I can portray a brand however I please on a commercial website even if I do own the product and photo.

Thanks for any advice you might be able to offer me.

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on June 02, 2011:

If you are using photos for an online magazine, or a blog, you still need to get permission. You should at least email them and ask for permission, they might allow you to use them, or they might have a blanket policy of saying "no", either way, you have to ask them - there are ways of telling if an image has been 'stolen' and plenty of people able to spot it and report it back to them, so get it legal and safe from the start.

Good luck with your new online magazine project!

Danielle on June 02, 2011:

Hey there, I am looking to start a local online magazine and is there anything I need to do or get to use images of products for lets say Forever 21? It basically would be used to make collages like you see in vogue or cosmo of "clothing for less" and links and credit to where we found them. Do i need permission to this if I am basically advertising for them for free?

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on May 14, 2011:

If you take photos of somebody's dog, then you own the copyright to those images. Even if you were a professional photographer and they were paying you for the photo shoot it would be normal for you to retain copyright of the images.

As the copyright holder, you can use/re-use the photos how you like. If they spotted their dog and 'stole' the image from you, perhaps to use in their profile, or to show on facebook, or uploaded to their photobucket site - then you'd be able to tell them to stop using it. It's their dog, but your photo.

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on May 14, 2011:

If you are using Google search on your site, then it'd probably be acceptable to use their logo, but I think they automatically place the Google logo beside/on the search box. Not 100% sure to be honest and I think whether they take exception to it will depend on how/where you've used their logo and the content/validity/usefulness of your site.

If it were me I'd not use it, the Google code provides clear signage that it's a Google search box and I'd leave it at that.

Nicole on May 11, 2011:

If I took pictures of a person's dog, do I need permission to post it on my facebook or my website?

Mall on May 11, 2011:

I am building a web site and I need to put a google search space, can i use the google logo ?

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on March 25, 2011:

Let them know you've used their photos and that you've credited them. They'll probably be OK with that; else they'll write back and tell you to remove them... better that than receiving an official looking legal letter!

Lesley Thompson on March 21, 2011:

Several wholesalers I currently buy from have this or a similar statement on their website:

Please note our trademarks ****** and respect our copyright and legal rights by not copying or downloading for copy anything from within this website unless it is to promote or sell ***** trademarked goods.

Am I able to freely use these images for those purposes (product listing, web & print, advertising, etc.) How can I state on my site that I have permission, but cannot grant it, etc?

There's many but I do make sure they state that before using their photo, should I keep record? If so how?

Should I let them know I am using their photos? And should I credit them on my website? Some I would not want my customers to know who my wholesalers are as they are available to anyone.

I wouldn't mind giving you my web address privately. Thanks so much for your help, you article is very well written.

Grayzack on February 27, 2011:

Thanks for the reply.

I was really tempted to do that (break the terms and try my dumb luck) but just what said, I might be surprised just how they would find it out.

I have another solution though:

Proceed with my original "option B" where I design with the royalty free photos. Post it on my templates list and when someone wants to buy it, I will just say, "Oh you must provide your own photos for the banners and etc...or if you really like it, you can buy this same exact photo from shutterstock to have a license on it" BTW Shutterstock allows 3 clients per photo but I don't wanna go that far. I would rather advice my clients to provide their own photos.


I should watermarked my purchased photo from shutterstock before integrating them on my templates. So that it will be crystal clear with the potential buyers that they won't be owning the displayed banner in the first place.

This is how works at least. You choose a template, you have an option for an actual preview but that actual preview has a lot of watermark all around. I think I will be more legal working this way ^__^

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on February 27, 2011:

Royalty free does not mean you can do what you want with the photos once you've bought them. What it means is that you can use the photos as many times as you like, so long as each use is within the terms of the license you bought.

Often a royalty free license will enable you to use the photos in your business, in newsletters, emails, adverts you design, as often as you like.

If you use those images in a logo, then try to trademark the logo, or register it, that would not be allowed as that use is not in the license you originally bought.

If you use the images to produce a website template and then you sell the template potentially several times, this is 'for commercial use' and is not allowed under the license you bought.

Often you will find that royalty free images will have an additional, more expensive, license you can use that enables commercial use; sometimes your actual intended use needs to be checked with the photographer before the sale of the image to you can go ahead.

If you want to use the image as an ebook cover, this is usually allowed under a royalty free license. If you want to use the image on a T shirt or bag then it wouldn't be.

The difference here is that if somebody's buying an ebook from you, then they're actually buying your wisdom/words inside your book. Whereas if somebody buys a T shirt or bag it's because of what it looks like/the image it's displaying.

If in doubt, simply ask the photo agency directly. They will answer truthfully. Don't be tempted to break the terms of the license and think they'll not find out, you'd be surprised just how quickly it is spotted.

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on February 27, 2011:

As a web designer, you can use such photos as examples, so long as you make it absolutely clear to clients that they must buy the images and get their own license for them.

If you use such a photo in a design, then you sell that design, it's "for commercial purposes", so that'd be illegal.

If you're a web designer putting together 2-3 ideas for a client, then many sites will allow you to download a watermarked image free of charge so you can plan a layout and show your client.

I hope that helps.

Grayzack on February 25, 2011:

Actually I'm planning to build a site somewhat like that of TemplateMOnster. Where in I will design a collection of Web templates using photos either Royalty Free or Free Royalty Free. I'm just concern on the restrictions on the Royalty Free photos. Thanks to your possible reply :)

Grayzack on February 25, 2011:

Hi there. I'm a webmaster and as possible as I can I wanna be honest with my commercial stuffs. Here's my case. I have acquired Realty Free photos from shutterstock. What can I do with those:

A. Can I then use them on my Web Designs and then sell those designs to my clients using the images (risky and maybe illegal)

B. Can I then use them on my Web Designs and then when the clients wants a particular design I will tell them they should provide their own banner photos/images (safer i think)

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on February 25, 2011:

Using the image of sneakers that you don't own is a "no no", although if you keep their name on and link back to them, then you can suck it and see .... if they complain, take it down.

As for Youtube videos, if you use their embed code on your page, then that's OK.

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on February 25, 2011:

It's best not to mess with a cease and desist. Remove the images, but for the copy you've written you could just turn it into a big whine about how awful the people are :)

That might get you big traffic :)

Clint on February 22, 2011:

I was gettin ready to build a blog giving sneaker release information and post youtube video of songs and basketball highlights.....1st can i use pictures of sneakers if the website i got it from has there name on the picture therefore people will know where i got them from. and also can i use other people videos if i have a direct link to there youtube page connected to the video i chose to use?

John on February 17, 2011:

also...just in case it's relevant. The page was built, promoted, and added to the site, weeks later the pro hooked up with a new mgt. team and they told us he was out. Now a year later they are on us to also remove the images this pro gave us permission to use... just to be clear. thanks.

John on February 17, 2011:

I received permission to use a sports celebrities (not a huge celebrity, but a pro) photos on our website a year and a half ago. After giving me the ok to take whatever photos I wanted from his myspace page, he backed out of an arrangement we made for him to write for our site as an expert. (his new rep. said no.) We were upset over all the work we did preparing, but c'est la vie. However we just recently received a cease and desist order from this same rep. telling us to not only remove the page we made with this experts permission, we also have to remove all of the images this person gave us permission to use in writing. They're big, I'm small. Should I do it? I already removed the page because I don't care about it since it's not being used. It gauls me to remove the images when I have already wasted all of this time and now they are demanding things from me....the gaul. Thanks, John

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on February 11, 2011:

Hi Andy.

No, you can't. Those photos on Photobucket belong to whoever took the photos. The person uploading them to Photobucket might have done so illegally in the first place.

Sharing doesn't mean you can take/use the photos, especially for commercial purposes.

You should write to NFL and ask them if they have any photos you can use. Or search through the copyright free image websites for any.

It's a tough world, but once you've got it right you can sleep at night.

andy on February 06, 2011:

Hi. I am a reseller of NFL/nba/NHL/mlb jerseys. They are all officially licensed by the manufacture. Can I use any NFL or teams logos on my website that are found on Photobucket? Ie a picture of Julius peppers or a picture of the NFL shield logo? If not how do I legally use them? There on Photobucket..a photo SHARING website.

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on February 06, 2011:

Hi Frankenstein

No, you can't use the pictures shown on those websites, without permission. However, you can take a screenie of the website and use that; 99% of the time that'd be perfectly acceptable.

I hope that helps, using images and photos legally on your website can be a pain for those people without the skills/time/budget to get their own images, but at least you can sleep at night :)

M. Frankenstein on February 05, 2011:

Hi, I have a website with reviews of commercial websites.I describe the websites and have links to them. Am I allowed to use some of the pictures shown on those websites?

My website doesn't sell anything other than ads.


Jordan Riley on January 13, 2011:

This is a fantastic hub. Gonna bookmark it now

lukiukas on January 10, 2011:

I am aware that in order to sell someone's picture I need to get a permission from them, as well as the property owners (such as the people who own the costumes and other props, and buildings, etc.) So if I am the owner of a red polka dot swimsuit that was used in a picture, do I still need to get permission from the person/company who created and sold me the bathing suit? Can they say no and can they demand money?

Kayla Rolfsen on November 24, 2010:

Thank you so much for this articles. I do not have money to spend on my website (seeing how it didn't cost me anything to make it), so I really don't have money to spend to buy photos. I haven't gone to the websites yet, but I will. I wasn't sure how to legally put photos on my site, but now I do. Thanks again!

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on October 02, 2010:

I've just updated this hub on using images and photos legally on your website - so there's now a list of websites where you can get free photos.

I hope that helps some of you guys out.

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on September 15, 2010:

Being an authorised seller does not mean you can use the photos from Amazon. You'd still need the permission (a license) to use those photos.

You have three choices really:

- use the images you are provided/allowed to use

- find better pictures, then contact the organisations to get permission to use the better pictures (do this in writing)

- take your own photos.

Laura on September 14, 2010:

I am a reseller of a brand of shoes, the wholesaler said it was okay for me to use the pictures of the shoes from there site, but I found better photos on other sites, like Amazon. Is it illegal for me to use these images, even if I am an authorized reseller?

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on August 29, 2010:

I had a look at the site of and he does openly say help yourself. If it were me I think I'd be a little hesitant... I'd want to make every attempt to contact him via the site. Unless you speak with him, you can't be 100% sure that it is his to give away, or if any of it is a derivative of another work

If he's used another work and just created derivatives of it, the original owner of the work would have copyright still.

If you are a business, producing anything for resale/commercial use, you can't really afford to take chances.

LK Childers on August 29, 2010:

I own a company that sells artist prints and derivative works, and we came across a young man's site where he has provided a blanket permission on his site to use his work, sell his work, he wants no credit etc., is that blanket permission actually enough to sell his work AND provide credit? We had planned on setting up a 'holding' account for what he would normally receive, but to date we have been unable to actually reach this young man.

Any help is appreciated.

LK Childers

Artistic Dreams Imaging

Dedicated Content Curator (author) from United Kingdom on August 13, 2010:

Almon, you have two separate agreements going on there to use images on your website.

[1] Your agreement with the photographer over the use/re-use of the images they take. The photographer will still have copyright over their images. The photographer has said you may use their images for 2 years.

[2] The modelling agency agreement allows you to display one photo for one year in one way (on your website).

So, to keep to those agreements, after year 1 you would have to pay the modelling agency a re-use fee every year to keep using the images. You would need to check with the agency regarding each image taken. After year 2, you would also need to start paying the photographer.

So, yes, it seems that every year you would have to pay the agency AND the photographer, to continue to use the photos.

You are allowed to take an archive copy for your own use.

You have these agreements in place because you either didn't seek out agreements that were more flexible to your needs, or because you bought on price.

As the agreements already exist for your use of images on your website, I can't change the contracts you signed, but it is something you need to check next time you organise for photos to be taken for your website.

I hope that helps.

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