1. Assume Copyright Until Proven Otherwise

While copyright protection at one time only applied if a proper Copyright Notice was included with the work, this is no longer true. The easiest way to avoid copyright infringement today is to simply always assume that a given work is protected by federal copyright, unless you can reliably confirm that it is not. This is especially important with information found on the Internet. If you can find it, chances are someone owns the rights to it (https://www.rocketlawyer.com/article/how-do-i-avoid-copyright-infringement-ps.rl).

  1. Purchase images from widely known commercial sites such as:
  1. Purchase images from other photo/image sites identified here: (http://www.creativebloq.com/photography/photo-libraries-12121413)
  1. Use Public Domain images (https://paragondigital.com/blog/how-to-avoid-copyright-infringement/)

Public domain images are a great source for free photos. However, you still have to follow a few key rules:

  • Don’t use the images for illegal activities.
  • Don’t show identifiable people in a negative manner.
  • Don’t suggest product or service endorsements by the people or organizations in the photos.

Pixabay has a nice blog post on what’s allowed and what is not when it comes to the use of public domain images.

The following sites have free images. Some are in the public domain, but some also have license agreements. Ensure you understand the licensing of any images you choose to use.

  1. Find images elsewhere, but be VERY, VERY careful. Here is one such site (http://jphotostyle.com/handwriting/i/internet-marketing.html), implying a Free License:

Free License permits: Sharing, copying and redistributing in any medium or format including adapting, remixing, transforming, and building upon the material for any purpose, even commercially. Attribution required.

License: Creative Commons 3 – CC BY-SA 3.0

So, even though it says ‘Free License permits’, it specifically states that Attribution is required as the Creative Commons license states (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/):

  • Attribution— You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
  • ShareAlike— If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.

Failure to provide correct attribution leaves you open to copyright infringement as the owner clearly states in the FAQ (http://www.jphotostyle.com/faq.html):

What is the position if the license terms are not followed?

… then the creator may well instigate legal action.

  1. Keep track of where you obtained images. You can do this with either a spreadsheet, the html hidden attribute or even a comment in your html code. The important thing is to maintain a record so that if there ever is a question, you know where you got the image from and you did so legally.

* Disclosure: I’m not a lawyer. This article contains my thoughts only and is not to be considered legal advice. Consult a qualified lawyer for legal advice.