Just googling a term and saving the image results can be a fast way to obtain beautiful photos for your project, but you are very likely infringing the creator’s copyright by doing so. Even if you do that in a way that nobody ever could find out only makes it different, it’s still not okay. If you steal something, and nobody catches you, it doesn’t make it right, does it? But how to get images and photos that you can use without paying a fee for the licensing?
In this article, we want to help you solve this problem with a few more information about the subject as well as an easy step-by-step guide on how to go about it. I hope you find this useful, and make sure to add your comments at the bottom of the page if you have tips to share.
What does royalty-free mean?
When media is royalty-free, it means that there is copyright on them, but they might be used without paying a royalty or a licensing fee of a sort. It’s not exactly the same as media under a creative commons license or media that are in the public domain, but often the terms are interchanged in casual conversation. What counts for you is that however you obtain images or other media, you always need to make sure that it is okay for you to use the material without the risk of being fined or sued. If you are unsure, you can always check the details with the creator of the media, or if you can’t verify, maybe just leave it be and go for something else instead.
So how to find a picture that you can use?
Whether you need images for a design or if you want to use photos to make your blogging more appealing, you can try to find the right ones on search engines. Since a recent update on Google, you can also configure the Google search in a way that it would only show you images that you might be able to use for free.
Update 10th of March 2022: Kindly note that Google is frequently making changes to their search engine and that the labels of buttons, the position of objects, and the naming of filters can change at any given time. This will, however, not mean that the guide is no longer functional. You can still use the Google image search engine to find the right images even today.
- Browse to google.com.
- Enter a search query, hit enter.
- Ignore results, click on “Images.”
- Ignore results, click on “Tools.”
- Find the drop-down menu “Usage rights.”
- Select whatever is appropriate for your project, e.g., “Labeled for reuse with modification.”
- Browse the royalty-free images, and you’re done.
The results that are now shown should consist only of images that you are allowed to use and modify without paying a fee. However, you should also make sure to check on the websites for information on how you have to credit the images and how to download them for free in full resolution. Even if there is no requirement to add credit to the creators and photographs, it would be a nice gesture to add their name and maybe a link to their homepage. They are offering their work for free, after all, to the whole of the world to use.
The results are likely to include various websites that offer creative commons licensed photos or other royalty-free media that you could also browse directly, but sometimes it is good to use Google as a single search engine instead of browsing each site separately. If you would like to check their websites directly or upload your own photos for everybody to use, you can check the following sites, for example:
- Flickr (with a filter on creative commons)
- Death to Stock
- Adobe Stock (free section)
I hope you found this step-by-step guide, or click-by-click guide if you prefer that, any useful. If you ever feel uncertain about using any images or photos, or even videos or music, you should always double-check. There can be costly consequences for you, your family, or your employer if this is overlooked as if there were no copyrights at all. Thanks for reading, and have fun blogging!