Copyright on images in blogs – are yours legal?

Strips of photograph film


Images bring a blog to life. They add colour, emotion or even humour to the words on the page.

But just because images are easy to come by on the internet doesn’t mean they are freely available for use.

In this blog I look at the issue of copyright on images and list some websites where you can find great images that you can use in your blog without worrying about infringing someone else’s copyright.


Downloading and using someone else’s image without their permission is a breach of copyright. The originator of the image doesn’t even have to state publicly that their image is copyright.

So don’t assume that just because images are so easy to come by and download on sites like Google Images, you can simply use them in your blog. That’s not the case.

A credit is not enough

Another misconception is that all you need to do to comply with copyright requirements is to credit the originator and provide a link to their site.

But it isn’t. You must still seek the originator’s permission to use their property to avoid infringing their copyright.

Do people really get found out?

The answer is yes. There was a case recently where a blogger received a hefty bill from the originator of a photograph she had used – and credited – and ended up paying heavy legal fees to sort the issue out.

Look for a Creative Commons licence

The good news is that many photographers want their work to be freely available for use. So they waive all or part of their copyright under a Creative Commons licence. All the user has to do is meet their requirements – often simply a credit or a donation to their coffee fund.

There are different kinds of Creative Commons licences. Some allow complete freedom to use the image without even a credit. Some allow personal and commercial use, some only personal.

For an excellent guide on the different kinds of Creative Commons licences, read Meghan Ward’s informative blog post.

Good sites for images under Creative Commons licences

There are a number of websites where you can find great images for downloading and using free of charge and legally.

Here’s a selection of my favourites:

Pixabay – a huge collection of images. Note that the first line contains Shutterstock images that are not free to use.

Flickr – another image hosting site where you can search and filter by different levels of copyright licence.

Picjumbo – photographs by Viktor Hanacek

Splitshire – photographs by Daniel Nanescu

Gratisography – by photographer Ryan McGuire

New Old Stock – copyright-free vintage pictures

You can also search for images, music and video on the Creative Commons website itself, and lots more suggestions are available on Canva.









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