Don’t steal! Use honest images on the web

Inez Romanos | November 25, 2015

Do you google for images, then use one that suits your purpose? You could be stealing.

If you’re using someone else’s image, you need to seek permission and credit the source — especially if you’re using it on an official or commercial website.

How do you find an image that’s okay to use? Your best bet is to look for an image with a Creative Commons licence. These licences work alongside copyright and enable you to choose pictures with the rights that best suits your needs.

Read about Creative Commons

A Creative Commons licence says how you can use an image

Creative Commons licences allow the creators of images to say how you can use their works. Different licences allow different things. For example, some licences allow you to use works for commercial purposes for free. Some licences allow you to change and add to works.

How to find an image with the right kind of Creative Commons licence for your use

Flickr is a good place to search for an image with a Creative Commons licence:

  1. Go to
  2. Search for the image you want using the search box (I searched for ‘alphabet’). A gallery of pictures will open.
  3. Click the grey licence filter tab. A list of the different kinds of licences will drop down.
  4. Choose the one that suits your purpose.

I chose ‘Commercial use allowed’, and that’s probably the licence you’ll need too. If you also want to make changes to an image, such as cropping it, pick the licence ‘Commercial use & mods allowed’.

The gallery will now only show images with the right sort of licence.

Licence filter drop-down box

Once you see an image you like, click on it to open its page. Then look underneath it for the link to its Creative Commons licence. Click on this to see the image’s licence, and to double check it’s okay for you to use. This is the link I clicked.

Capture This is the link I clicked

The picture I chose has a CC Attribution 2.0 licence, so I can share and change it.

Capture CC 2.0 licence

How to caption and credit an image correctly

To credit an image, provide links to:

Here’s how. I found this image of typewriter letters. It’s by Flickr user Laineys Repertoire. The original filename was a string of digits, so when I downloaded it, I renamed the file ‘typewriter letters’.

Typewriter keys

To make it easy for me to round up all those links, I created a Word document called ‘typewriter letters’ and pasted in the following three links. Putting them in a Word document was an easy way to find them again later.

The link to the photo, straight from the browser’s address bar:

The link to the profile of Laineys Repertoire on Flickr:

The link to the image’s Creative Commons licence:

Then I wrote this blog post, uploaded the image, and captioned it like this, copy-pasting the three links into the caption text as I went:

All done

I know I’ve acted legally. And I’ve given credit for a photograph that fills me with nostalgia for high school typing lessons, a photographer with a collection of terrific pictures, and a system that shares resources for us to use freely.

Next time: Choosing the right licence for your purpose

Different kinds of Creative Commons licences permit you to use images in different ways. We’ll blog about the different licences soon.


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