Images are an important part of your website as they help bring the text to life and keep readers browsing your pages. However, if you’re not a photographer, finding free images online that you can use for your website can be a slightly tricky task. The internet is full of images and while it seems like the easiest option would be sourcing a photo on Google and saving it to your computer, this might not be the best idea.
In this article, we’ll explore why that is and the better places you can go to find images you can use for your websites.
Legal considerations when finding free images
The problem with downloading your desired images from Google is that most of these photos are still owned by whoever created the photo and that person will hold the copyright.
Images found online are registered under multiple types of licences that tell you about the copyright status of the photo. It’s important to understand what these licenses tell you about a photo so you’ll know whether or not using it on your website is going to get you in trouble.
Remember: Any image is protected by copyright as soon as it is created. Using all of part of an image when you don’t have permission to do so is a violation of copyright. If you’re not sure about whether you have the right to use an image in a particular way it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Here are the different types of images you will find online:
These images need to be paid for before you can use them on your site. The copyright will still be held by the owner of the photo but you can pay them for the right to use it as many times as you wish without paying additional royalties. However, they’ll likely be a licence and you’ll have to comply with the terms of that licence when using the image.
You still need to pay to use rights-managed images and there may be greater restrictions placed on the way you can use them. For example, there may be a time limit on how long you can use the image for, a restriction on what purposes you can use the image for and even geographical restrictions.
Creative commons images
Creative commons licenses are used to allow copyrighted work to be distributed for free. This is a good place to start when looking online for images you can use, but you’ll have to read the terms of each photo very carefully before you download it, as some of the original owners may still reserve some rights. For example, you may still be required to leave a photo credit and link to the license, or you may only be allowed to use it on certain types of websites. Here’s an example of a CC licensed photo where the terms state that you are free to use it as you wish:
And here’s an example of a CC licensed photo where you’d have to be more careful:
So now we’ve got the legal bits out the way, let’s explore the best places you can find images that are free to use on your website.
Free stock images
Not all images are copyrighted – there are some images in the public domain that are not protected by copyright and therefore can be used by anyone however they wish. There are a lot of stock photography websites dedicated to distributing high-quality photos of this nature.
You’ll find that a lot of the photos on the following websites will be registered under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) which means there’s no copyright. As such, you can use the images however you want.
How can I find free images for my website?
Looking for free images for your website? Here are 5 websites to find high-quality, rights-free images.
These great websites contain thousands of high-resolution photography and stock images covering just about anything. The photos you find on these sites can be used for free for both commercial and personal purposes, with no attribution to the photographer – as most are registered under CC0.
However, it’s still always best to do your own research and double check it’s OK to use the image first, as getting busted for copyright infringement can be costly. And you’ll still be at fault even if you thought the image you were using was CC0.
This may sound like a lot to consider just to download a few images but taking the time to source images you can legally use is part and parcel of building a website. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get your website up and running without the hassle of investigating each image you find online, you could try the GoDaddy Websites + Marketing. Each theme offers high-quality royalty-free images at no extra cost.
Now you have all the knowledge you need to source images for your website online, you can start bringing your website to life with vibrant imagery that won’t get you in trouble with the law!
Of course, one area online images won’t do the trick is product photography. If you’re selling products on your website, you’ll need to take your own photos.