When you are looking for free images to accompany your blog post, you need to understand that – unless you are using your own images – there are copyrights and attribution rules to follow.
Let’s take Flickr for example – one of the image sites I usually refer to when looking for images for my blog posts. Using images from Flickr will require you to add an attribution to the original image owner, depending on the license of the images. Are they copyrighted? Are they creative common? If they are creative commons, are you allowed to modify the image? To find out more, please visit Flickr’ Creative Commons images categorization.
All in all, you need to watch for usage terms… chances are, you might not get sued for claiming the images as your own without proper attribution; however, from ethical standpoint, you need to give credit to the real owner of the image.
For more information about Creative Commons, please visit the official site here.
What if I don’t want to give any attributions?
If you don’t want any attribution or link back or whatsoever to the original source, then you need to go for public domain images – those that are free to use without any attributions.
One public domain image site I regularly use is PublicDomainPictures.net. One more way to access public domain image is by visiting Wikimedia. If you need more resources, please visit this Wikipedia page about public domain image resources.
A spoiler: How to get royalty-free stock images for free
Here’s a “greyhat” method I would like to share with you: How about getting iStockPhoto’s quality royalty-free images without spending a dime to purchase them?
No, this method doesn’t involve hacking or any illegal things. It’s just using people’s habit (or laziness?) by not renaming their downloaded images from iStockPhoto into something else.
So what I usually do is by typing my desired image’s keyword followed by the word “istock” – for example, if I’m looking for an image of a businesswoman, then I just Google for this term “businesswoman istock” – voila! You will be presented with iStockPhoto’s quality images with the file name unchanged! Of course, for more obscure terms, you need to be patient in your search…
Am I stealing iStockPhoto’s images? The answer is no – check out iStockPhoto licenses to find out (please read the “Editorial Use Only” license for blogs.) What you actually do is to use freely available images from Google search engine, with file names exactly the same with some other resources.
I think this is as ethical as it can be – however, if you are not sure about the ethical standpoint of this, then don’t do it