Searching for the great image
When searching for that great image online it’s easy and tempting to simply right click and copy any image you find. There is no warning signal or stop sign that appears with a message asking, “Yes, you can take this image, but should you?”
Finding images online, and then what you do with them, poses legal questions as well as ethical ones that touch upon issues of integrity and morality. The ease with which internet surfers can grab images encourages copyright infringement. It doesn’t necessarily take that much more time to search through resources that provide images that aren’t in violation of copyright law.
Creative Commons is one place where you can start. A non-profit organization that was founded by Larry Lessig, Creative Commons offers free tools that enable the sharing of images with a variety of options. Users can give permission to use their images with options like “some rights reserved.” Those seeking images can go to Creative Commons Search and find a number of resources that provide images utilizing Creative Commons licenses.
If you decide to start where most of us do, Google, go one step further to Google’s Advanced Image Search. Here you’ll find a tool that not only let’s you search by format, language, geography, and more, but also by usage rights.
There are a number of sites that offer free stock images. A post by Smashing Magazine lists a directory of sites offering free images for both personal and commercial use. This is in addition to the plethora of stock photography sites that offer a wide range of purchasing and licensing options for both royalty free images as well as for rights managed images.
Another option internet surfers can try are images that are in the public domain. The University of California Community has a directory listing of public domain guides along with information on copyright.
The last thing that users should consider is asking for permission. If you find an image that’s copyright protected, you can ask for permission to use it. Depending on how and why you are using it, you just may find the copyright owner is happy to share the image along with a photo credit.
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