When maintaining a website, it’s important to use original material.
- never copy content from anyone else’s website
- use your own images, photos you’ve taken or graphics you’ve commissioned, and to which you own the copyright
It’s not quite as simple as that though. Plagiarism is allowed to some extent: see “The Golden Rule” on our website copywriting advice page. And you may use other people’s images, so long as they permit it.
Not everyone is a great artist or photographer, so in this post we’re looking for photos, sketches and diagrams.
Licensed Image Resources
The online world is awash with beautiful paintings and photographs for you to use, all subject to licence restrictions. If you use a licensed image without permission, you are open to prosecution by the copyright owner. Big image libraries, and companies big enough to have a legal department, do monitor plagiarism on the internet. And they do go after people who use them without permission. I know, it happened to one of my clients. This doesn’t usually lead to a court case, but it’s still a nuisance as you’d need to swap your content very quickly.
Even if it isn’t completely new, it’s best to make sure your content is largely unique and doesn’t violate anyone’s copyright. Your own photographs are the safest.
Free-to-use Image Resources
There are websites that publish licence-free images. You can use these on your website without fear of retribution. If you decide upon a great, popular image, then you’ll see it in other places on the internet. You may decide to pay for a less popular one to differentiate your website from the pack.
TIP 1: check your competitors’ websites before choosing.
TIP 2: download the highest definition images available as this gives the most flexibility
An internet search will reveal plenty of websites offering images online, some free to use and some you have to pay for. Here are four we’ve used in the past.
- iStock: massive range includes movies; good filtering; the most expensive in this list
- Pixabay: the image search on this site often reveals paid-for images on other sites, but very clear licence terms with their own pictures
- pxhere: each picture has very clear licence terms and attribution requirements
- Shutterstock: 30-day free trial, then £1.99 per image, cancel anytime
How to Use Google to Search for Free-to-use Images
Google will filter its image search by licence terms. It will deliver images from the libraries I mentioned, plus countess other sources. Again, be sure to check the licence if you choose one of these.
- Search for your keywords and click or tap Images
- Select Tools
- Now click the Usage rights drop-down
- Select one of these depending on whether you want to modify the image or not
How to Check Who Else Uses Your Picture
It’s a good idea to check, not least becuase a competitor may use it. Google helps here with its Image Search. Go to images.google.com and click the little camera to the right of the search bar.
If you already downloaded the image, you can upload it on the “Upload an image” tab. Otherwise drag it onto the box or, if that doesn’t work, copy/paste the image URL into it. Usually, clicking on an online image will take to to its location on the internet where you can copy the URL from the address bar.
Good luck with findiong great images for you website, but do remember:
- check licence restrictions and permissions carefully before choosing
- download the highest definition available so you get a clear picture on you website.
Look out for our next post on image optimisation: essential for fast page load times.