The Best Tools for Finding Free and Legal Images

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Every blogger knows they have to get permission to use any images in a post that they publish. In the early days that was a royal pain in the neck. However, times have changed and there are some fantastic tools available to help ease the pain and ultimately keep you legal and out of trouble, Here are just a few.

Creative Commons Search Engine
This is an awesome site to find many images that include permission to freely use in many forms. It searches the following sites for the following type of resources:

  • Google Web (Web)
  • Google Images (Image)
  • Flickr (Image)
  • Blip.tv (Video)
  • Jamendo (Music)
  • SpinXpress (Media)
  • Wikimedia Commons (Media)

Pay close attention to the type of search you’re doing by selecting the options to the right of the search box. They are for commercial purposes, modify, adapt or Build upon.

cc header

morguefile
Another excellent search engine is the MorgueFile which has a vast archive of free images. As with all of these search engines, you should also read the fine print to ensure that you have sufficient rights to use the image.

morgue rights

U.S. Government Photos and Images
Believe it or not, you can find a boatload of free images to use on the U.S. Government’s website. However, you still need to verify that the image gives full permission for the type of usage you plan to use. Here is the full disclaimer.

Find photos and images by topic. Some of these photos and images are in the public domain and may be used and reproduced without permission or fee. However, some photos and images may be protected by license. We strongly recommend you thoroughly read the disclaimers on each site before use.

photodropper
If your blog is running on a self-hosted WordPress platform then by far my favorite tool is the PhotoDropper plugin which makes it a breeze to find free images you can use. PhotoDropper searches not only the CreateCommons site but also Flickr’s creative commons catalog.

Not only that, it also inserts the photo into your blog post along with the image permissions along with links to the original source and photographer! You just pick from three different sizes (S, M, L) and then it does the rest of the dirty work for you.

single-photo

photo-in-post

Flickr’s Creative Commons
Yahoo’s popular Flickr photo service has an ever-growing library of CC images. Just make sure you use them the right way. They make it very easy to identify the types of rights available for each photo.

flickr cc

stock exchange
Stock.Xchng has been around a long time and just keeps getting better with time. It requires joining the service but it’s well worth it.

Once you do a search and find the image you like, look for the image permission link that comes with every image (bottom right of the image)

image permission

This is where you will find what you need to know. I’ve highlighted the three sections in Green (good to use), Yellow (good to use if the owner approves its usage) and Red (Do not use it in the manner stated)

Image License

The following is a legal agreement between You and the owners of SXC.hu ("Website"), HAAP Media Ltd. ("SXC", "We") which governs the use of non-watermarked images ("Images") downloaded from our Website. By downloading an Image You agree to be bound by the terms of this Agreement automatically, without any other conditions or declarations. If You do not agree with these terms, You are not allowed to download the Image.
All Images on the Website are copyrighted and they are the properties of SXC or its Image providers. All rights are reserved unless otherwise granted to You. Your rights to use the Image are subject to this agreement and the restrictions specified at each Image.
We hereby grant to You a non-exclusive, non-transferable license to use the Image on the terms and conditions explained in this Agreement and on the Image preview page FREE OF CHARGE.

You may use the Image

  • In digital format on websites, multimedia presentations, broadcast film and video, cell phones.
  • In printed promotional materials, magazines, newspapers, books, brochures, flyers, CD/DVD covers, etc.
  • Along with your corporate identity on business cards, letterhead, etc.
  • To decorate your home, your office or any public place.

You may not use the Image

  • For pornographic, unlawful or other immoral purposes, for spreading hate or discrimination, or to defame or victimise other people, sociteties, cultures.
  • To endorse products and services if it depicts a person.
  • In a way that can give a bad name to SXC or the person(s) depicted on the Image.
  • As part of a trademark, service mark or logo.
  • SELLING AND REDISTRIBUTION OF THE IMAGE (INDIVIDUALLY OR ALONG WITH OTHER IMAGES) IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN! DO NOT SHARE THE IMAGE WITH OTHERS!

Always ask permission from the photographer if you want to use the Image

  • In website templates that You intend to sell or distribute.
  • For creating printed reproductions that You intend to sell.
  • On "print on demand" items such as t-shirts, postcards, mouse pads, mugs (e.g. on sites like Cafepress), or on any similar mass produced item that would contain the Image in a dominant way.

Information on rights
Since SXC does NOT require a written Model Release for each Image that has identifiable people on it, We cannot guarantee that you will be able to use the Image for any purpose You like. Also, if there is a model release for the Image, We do not represent or make warranties whatsoever as to the legality or validity of it.
Furthermore, certain Images may be subject to additional copyrights, property rights, trademarks etc. and may require the consent of a third party or the license of these rights. SXC does not represent or make any warranties that it owns or licenses any of the mentioned, nor does it grant them. It’s your sole responsibility to make sure that You have all the necessary rights, consents and licenses for the use of the Image.
You acknowledge that by your download the ownership of Image does not get transferred to You and You must not claim that it is yours. Your license is non-transferable, which means that You are not allowed to sell, rent, give, sublicense, or otherwise transfer the Image or the right to use the Image to anyone else. The work You create with the Image must be used either by yourself or by your client. You warrant that You do your best to prevent third parties from duplicating the Image.
You also agree to take the time to comment on and rate the Image you downloaded and do your best to show the work you created with the Image to the photographer. This is a simple thing and means a lot to many of our contributors who simply would like to know how their work is used.
IMPORTANT!
SXC cannot be held responsible for any copyright violations, and cannot guarantee the legality of the Images stored in its system. If you want to make sure, always contact the photographers. You use the site and the photos at your own risk!
Indemnification
You agree to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless SXC and its officers, employees, shareholders, directors and suppliers against all claims, liability, damages, costs and expenses, including reasonable legal fees and expenses, arising out of or related to a breach of this Agreement, the use of this site and the use or the inability of use of any Image, your failure to abide by any restriction regarding the use of an Image, or any claim by a third party related to the use of an Image.
Warranty and Liability
THE WEBSITE AND THE IMAGES ARE PROVIDED "AS IS". WE OFFER NO WARRANTY, EXPLICIT OR IMPLIED, REGARDING ANY IMAGES, THE WEBSITE, THE ACCURACY OF ANY INFORMATION, OR ANY RIGHTS OR LICENSES UNDER THIS AGREEMENT INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, ANY IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. SXC DOES NOT REPRESENT OR WARRANT THAT THE WEBSITE OR THE IMAGES WILL MEET YOUR REQUIREMENTS OR THAT THEIR USE WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED OR ERROR FREE.
SXC SHALL NOT BE LIABLE TO YOU OR TO ANY OTHER PERSON OR ENTITY FOR ANY GENERAL, PUNITIVE, SPECIAL, INDIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL OR INCIDENTAL DAMAGES, OR LOST PROFITS OR ANY OTHER DAMAGES, COSTS OR LOSSES ARISING OUT OF YOUR USE OF THE WEBSITE OR THE IMAGES.

Summary

Ok, so now you should have no more excuses for breaking the law. You can find a ton of free AND LEGAL images, videos and music for whatever work you publish online and offline. Just remember to double-check the permissions.

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