Your Guide to Finding Excellent Royalty-Free Images

When you consider all the time and creative energy required to produce a quality piece of content, it’s an obvious shame to diminish the value of the published version by failing to take something as essential as the graphics into account.

Unfortunately, because of the tricky nature of usage rights, some business owners and bloggers repeatedly make that mistake.

Understanding Fair Use

Many bloggers stay away from images because they’re uncertain about which pictures they can use and how they may use them. Copyright law and usage rights are admittedly complicated, but you don’t have to understand all the intricacies of case law to swim in these waters.

All you need to know are the basic elements of fair use. In the vast majority of cases, American copyright law says you can’t copy, distribute, or use someone else’s copyrighted work without prior permission granted through a license.

The one exception is the Fair Use doctrine, which permits the use of copyrighted work in certain situations. In most cases, the courts measure fair use according to four basic prongs:

  1. The purpose and character of the specific use (for example, is it being used for nonprofit educational purposes, or in a commercial, for-profit manner?)
  1. The specific nature of the copyrighted image
  1. The amount of content used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  1. How the use of the copyrighted material affects the value (or potential value) of the copyrighted work

Sounds pretty complicated, right? Well, it isn’t really. When you cut through the legal lexicon, the principle of fair use is pretty simple.

“The purpose and character of the use of the photo you’re using should generally not be used for commercial purposes, and will constitute fair use if you’re using the image for purposes of commentary, criticism, reporting, or teaching,” Nicole Martinez writes for Art Law Journal.

“Generally, that means you can’t use a photo simply to enhance a blog post, or use a photographer’s image of a blouse in order to sell that blouse on your website. But you can use it if you want to explain a technique or report on a new trend.”

The Best Places to Find Royalty-Free Images Online

If you want to avoid any potential copyright violation and keep your nose clean without worrying about a photographer or graphic designer coming after you, there’s a very easy solution: Only source images from websites and platforms that carry royalty-free images.

But you can only find cheesy stock photos on these sites, is what you’re probably thinking. This simply isn’t true, however.

Take a look at this blog post from Med Cruise Guide. Scrolling through the images, you’d probably never guess that each one comes from some sort of Creative Commons or royalty-free site.

As long as you know where to look, you can find a high quality of images without worrying about copyright risks. Here are a few of the best resources:

  • Google Image Search. Believe it or not, you can start with a simple Google Image search. Just make sure you set the usage rights filter to search for results that are “labeled for commercial reuse.”
  • Wikimedia Commons. Did you know that you’re free to use any videos, photos, or audio that’s published on Wikipedia? The Wikimedia Commons serves as the repository for this content.
  • Pixabay. With more than 65,000 photos that can be used gratis for any purpose, Pixabay is a great resource to keep bookmarked in your browser.

Give Your Content the Boost it Needs

Images and visuals lift textual content to the next level. It’s time you stopped worrying about usage rights and copyright law and begin using the resources that are readily available at your disposal.

Peruse some of the sites highlighted in this article and see what you find.