Creative Commons Images For Your Blog

Question Mark by Ryan

I talk about blogging a lot, both about general blogging information and the legal side of blogging. One of the things I always talk about is the images. Every blog post needs at least one picture. It makes the post more interesting and it can help you portray your subject matter or the emotional impact of your message.

I am not a photographer, so I have to rely on other sources for my photos. If you don’t have a photo that you yourself have taken to use with your post, you can find quality images on Creative Commons. Creative Commons is a license that photographers put on their images that allow you to use them. The particular license tells you how you’re allowed to use it and what credit you have to give to the image owner.

Attribution only – You only have to give credit to the image owner. You can modify the image and use it for   commercial purposes

Attribution-ShareAlike – You may modify the original work and use it for commercial purposes, but you must allow others to use your work in the same way. You must give an attribution to the original image owner.

Attribution-NoDerivs – You may use the image for commercial purposes but you can’t alter the image in any way. You must give credit to the image owner.

Attribution-NonCommercial – You may modify the original image but you may not use it for commercial purposes. You must give an attribution to the image owner.

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike – You can modify the image but you must allow anyone to use what you create. You can’t use it for commercial purposes and you must give credit to the image owner.

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs – You may only use the image, as is, for non-commercial purposes. You may not modify the image, and you must give an attribution to the image owner.

When I look for photos for my blogs, I always pick photos that come with an Attribution only or Attribution-ShareAlike license, and I encourage everyone to do the same. When I add a photo to my blog, I put the name of the image and the attribution to the image owner in the caption, and make the caption visible on the post. In the image description, I include a link back to the original image, which is usually on Flickr.

I use these license because they are the most user-friendly. If you need to crop a photo, these licenses will allow you to do that. I also recommend always using photos that you’re allowed to use for commercial purposes.  Even if you don’t make money on your blog from ads or by having you blog connected to a business now, you might in the future. If you start making money via your blog and you have images on your blog that you’re not allowed to use for commercial purposes, you have to go back and remove those images from your site. It’s easier in the long run if you have permission to commercialize all of your images from the start.

If there’s an image you really you want to use on your blog, but it doesn’t come with a Creative Commons license, you can always ask the image owner if you can use it. I have standing agreements with Devon Christopher Adams and Sheila Dee because I ask to use their photos so often.

12 responses to “Creative Commons Images For Your Blog”

  1. Great tip, Ruth. I LOVE Flickr’s stock of Creative Commons and use it all the time for blog images, along with crediting so hopefully the photographer gets something from my use.

  2. Thanks Ruth for the great post. What are your thoughts on using the license “Attribution-NonCommercial” for a corporate blog post? The blog post itself is free to view, but the sites goal is commercial. Can these images still be used or are they off limits?

    • Because the blog’s ultimate goal is to make money, I’d say it has a commercial purpose so it would be inappropriate to use images that only come with the Attribution-NonCommercial license. I only use images that I can modify and commercialize on my blogs even though I don’t make money directly off my sites at this time.

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