Picture Perfect: A Blogger’s Guide to Copyrighted Images Part 2

Images give life and character to any blog. A boring text-laden page becomes interesting when striking images are strategically placed along the way. We have previously tackled how to choose quality images for your blog. Today we’re concluding our two-part series on Picture Perfect as we zero in on the use of copyrighted images. There are literally tons of photos you can use in the web. Simply Google the image you need and you’ll be given thousands of choices.

What most bloggers don’t know is that some of these images are copyrighted and you can get into trouble if this is overlooked. Let’s look at some of the basic things you need to know about using copyrighted images:

What is copyright?

Copyright is an automatic right given by law to creators of original work regardless if it’s published or unpublished. Once you’ve taken a photograph even if you’re just using your smart phone, that photo has a copyright already. Your first paragraph is already imprinted with a copyright as you type it along. The Copyright Law of the United States, which is the basis of most of the copyright laws of other countries, grants exclusive rights to authors and artists to reproduce their own work, make derivative works from it, distribute it to the public either by sale or transfer, and display and perform their works publicly. Anyone who violates the said rights of the copyright holder is subject to copyright infringement.

Using copyrighted images

Having said that, now you know that technically all the images you see in the web is copyrighted. The rule of thumb is that you need authorization from the owner before you can use his image. While it is impossible to do that for all the images you will use for your blog, you have other options that free you from legal bindings:

Stock Photos

Stock photos fall under the “work made for hire” exception, which are works by an employee for his employer and works commissioned for use as contribution to a collective work. In addition, stock photos are purchased and along with it is the permission to use the stock images as deemed fit by the buyer.

There are two ways to purchase stock photos—the royalty-free and rights managed. Royalty-free images mean that with the one-time purchase comes the unlimited use of the image. Rights managed images are more expensive and complex as the final price is determined by the duration of use, purpose, size, industry, and many other factors.

Below are some of the best stock photo sites you can choose from:

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is an organization that gives license to individuals to retain their copyright while allowing other people to copy, distribute, and use their work for non-commercial purposes. It encourages sharing between creators and licensors, by removing the stiff restrictions of copyrights without compromising the rights of the owners. Creators can choose what license they will give other people regarding the use of their work. Here’s a quick rundown of the licenses offered by Creative Commons:

  • Attribution (CC BY) – allows users to distribute, edit, and build upon the creator’s work as long as he is credited for the original version. This is the most accommodating of all the licenses offered by Creative Commons.
  • Attribution-ShareALike (CC BY-SA) – allows the same use as Attribution with the license to use the work even for commercial purposes provided that their new creations are licensed under the same terms.
  • Attribution-NoDerivs (CC BY-ND) – allows the redistribution of the owner’s work for commercial and non-commercial purposes as long as it is not changed or tweaked and the creator still gets the credit.
  • Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC) – allows users to edit and build upon the creator’s work non-commercially and give due credit at the same time. However, the user is not allowed to license the derivative work under the same terms.
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA) – allows the same use as CC BY-NC while allowing the new creations to be licensed with the same terms.
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND) – allows users to download and share the owner’s work provided that he is credited for its use. It doesn’t allow any form of tweaking or editing and cannot be used commercially. This is the most restrictive among all the licenses.

You can also check this video for a full overview of Creative Commons license.

Bottom line, you have to give credit where credit is due regardless if there are legal repercussions or not. It is only right to recognize the efforts of the image owner because his work has helped your blog become more attractive and engaging. If you want other people to respect your creation, you should also do the same. Do not be afraid to use copyrighted images, as long as you ask permission, give the proper credit, or use the above exceptions, you will not fall into legal mishaps. Crediting sources not only gives integrity to your blog but also conveys a good sense of professionalism.

About Pepper Virtual Assistants

Pepper Virtual Assistant Services is a business solutions firm that specializes on administrative assistance, customer support, CRM, copywriting, and personal virtual assistance. We take pride in our reliable service and responsive client handling which embodies our team’s optimal performance.



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