For this blog post 2 areas of my life are coming together, my masters study in Digital Education and my teaching on the Website Design course as part of the Digital Marketing Diploma at NZIE. 

For my Masters study I was introduced to Creative Commons and attribution of images within Education and for my teaching, students have to look into the legal and ethics of websites with includes the use of images.

I often get asked about copyright and where can you source legal images for Digital Marketing campaigns and for use within the classroom. The important thing to consider is the Copyright Act 1994 (in New Zealand). Please check your countries version, they are often very similar.

I hope you know that you cannot just go to google images and take an image and use it on your website! If you didn’t know this then please read one of my most popular blog posts dating back to 2014 Getty Image Unauthorised Use of Image Letterfor details about the fine you can get. You can search using the Google image and usage rights option, but be careful it isn’t uncommon for people to edit the meta data of an image to claim it’s copyright free when actually it’s copyrighted this is no guarantee of royalty free.

So you may be asking how do I get images for my website, social media and e-mail marketing? There are a lot of places where you can get FREE stock photography as well as better quality paid for stock imagery. You can get a lot of vector imagery free and paid which you can use under the creative commons attribution.

When can I use an image on my website? 

The simple answer is that unless the material is published under a Creative Commons License OR you have requested permission from the Copyright holder, OR there is a terms of use statement that outlines what you can do …. then don’t!  

You can copy an image/text/music/video under the following conditions:

  • Where copyright has expired or never existed
  • For the purposes of private research/study, criticism/review or news reporting (that’s ‘fair dealing’ or the ‘quotation’ rule)
  • Where you have a license to do the copying – a license will spell out the ways in which you can copy
  • If you have permission from the author
Mikey Rat Copywrong from| CC0

Creative Commons 

Creative Commons presents a solution to this problem. This copyright licensing scheme opens up a whole load of content that people can freely copy, communicate, remix and re-purpose. Permission from the copyright owner does not need to be sought as permission has already been granted. Creative commons provides 6 licenses under which images can be provided:

  • Attribution– you edit the image and can be used personally & commercially providing the original author is credited 
  • Attribution non- commercial – you edit the image and can be used personally providing the original author is credited 
  • Attribution share alike– you can you edit the image and personally and commercial but credit the creations.
  • Attribution non commercial sharealike– you can you edit the image personally but credit the creations.
  • Attribution no derivatives– personal and commercial use do not change the original. 
  • Attribution non commercial no derivatives– most restrictive, non commercial, no editing.

Stock Photography 

Stock photography websites are good, especially where there isn’t budget or it’s just not possible to get the photographs you require for your digital marketing. The problem with stock photography is you tend to keep seeing the same images over and over again especially if you’re in an industry where there is limited choice. See my a list of tried and tested paid and free stock imagery websites. You can also get video and vector graphics on a lot of these websites as well

Free Stock Photography websites

This is where I source most of my blog imagery, make sure you check the usage and attribution requirements. Be careful a lot of these website have sponsored Shutterstock options at the top of your search, so make sure to scroll further to the free images.

Image source

Paid for stock photography websites 

My advice is only to use these when you cannot find what you’re looking for on the free websites, especially if you’re in a limited industry.  one of the cheaper options – you get 10 free with your adobe creative cloud subscription

Free Vector Graphics

Free Stock Video Footage

I hope that helps you to find copyright free and/or royalty free work and keep within the law for your website and digital marketing. 

Please comment with your recommendations for sourcing copyright free images or video in the comments section.

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