Astrid Bovell on March 1st, 2012
So recently I’ve been hearing murmurings of how much people love ‘royalty free’ image sites – which is totally fine! I don’t blame you – there are a lot of awesome pictures available there that are really easy to find and can be super useful BUT (and I don’t want to sound like a preacher here but!) the devil is in the detail my friends….
Sometimes the fine print reveals that the image is “royalty free” but only under the circumstances that it’s for personal use or in the case of a company – internal circulation only – that means, no websites, no outward facing publications. Another thing to look out for are sections that talk about the images being able to be used on websites – but only if you use them in such a way that they cannot be downloaded or saved as an electronic file from your site. This is important, because you might not be able to engineer your site so as to prevent people from downloading or saving that image as an electronic file. Something else I see from time to time are sites that specify that these conditions only apply if you’re using the material in a specific country – sometimes a specific state!
So what do you do if everything goes pear-shaped and the terms and conditions won’t let you do what you want with your image? Have a go at searching for some copyright friendly images that are licensed under Creative Commons through Flickr or labelled for re-use in Google Images Advanced Search. With the increasing popularity and awareness of Creative Commons licensing, there’s more and more content and professional images becoming available for your uses.
By all means, go forth and use good resources you find for royalty-free images – just make sure that you can do what you want to do with it before you make your purchase.