Images are essential to any writing. They break up the text and attract readers. Read any article on writing tips and they will mention the importance of having a good eye-catching image.
Many writers when they start do not understand the complex nature of using images in their work. If you do not have permission to use an image or have purchased the copyright, you can’t use the image. It might be the perfect image, but using it could leave you in trouble later on. Especially if the owner of the image comes looking for their publishing rights.
Here are some rules to consider to avoid this problem.
Just because you found it doesn’t mean you can use it. It doesn’t matter if you credit the artist and link back to the source. If you don’t have the right to publish the picture you can still be sued. Using a picture from a website and citing it as the source is not good enough. You have to have permission to use it.
Copyright stands unless otherwise stated
As soon as a person published a picture they took, the image has automatic copyright. The only time this is not the case is with the following exception.
- The image is in the public domain. Copyright expires after 70 years unless an extension is obtained. However, reproductions of these works can hold their copyright so be cautious. For example, even if a famous painting is in the public domain an photographers photo of it might not be.
- Creative commons, are when photographers have licensed their photos for public use. To be safe with these type of images, I would always refer back to the photographer as there are many variations to these licenses.
- Royalty-free images are those that the creator has given up their copyright for. They are paid a licensing fee by the site owner to offer these images.
The good news is there are several sites that you can use. These provide beautiful copyright-free pictures. Here are five I use regularly.
The rules apply to all media
This includes GIF’s and memes unless you produce them yourselves. Even if you do, make sure you are using copyright-free images in your GIFs. This is, however, a very grey area as GIFs are shared amongst social media. My advice would be to show caution if you are using them in blogs that could make you money.
What can you use
Apart from the websites I have listed above there are several other ways of providing images for your blog.
The easiest way that provides no risk is to use the images that you have taken yourself. On sites like Medium, I would still credit the photo as your own as you may not be curated if you don’t.
Photos you take of book covers and other parts of a book are generally covered under the license of fair use. Although they carry a very small risk, it is unlikely publishers will object. Ensure that you cite the book reference under the photo using Harvard referencing.
Medium makes the process of correct citation easy. They automatically import a photo with accreditation into your articles. However, you only have to be on Medium for a couple of months to see the same image again and again. Try to use images that haven’t been used before or other free sites.
Images are essential to all blogs. Using them correctly is important if you wish to take your writing career further. If you follow these simple rules you will be free from worry.
- Use copyright free images or seek permission of the copyright holder
- Accredit all pictures correctly even if they are yours
- Wherever possible use your own photography
- If in any doubt don’t use and go for a safe option