Is it legal to use photographs if I give proper credit?

  • Author
  • #154054

    I am a brand new blogger and I am slooowly putting my blog together. (Heck, I’m still trying to make Categories cooperate. So far – Catergories are winning! They have outsmarted me! Sigh.) Here’s my question – my blog is going to be on DIY decorating. I would like to post some pictures, say, from major decorating Web sites, with the proper identification: i.e. : This lovely picture from Better Homes and Gardens is posted as inspiration (with the ability to click on the picture and go to the spot where I got the picture.) Or, say, a picture of a jack-o-lantern with a cutline like: “I found a bunch of fantastic pumpkin projects like these at”
    Is this legal? Is this the kind of thing the community can answer for me, and if not, can anyone steer me to a place where I can find out?



    generally, giving credit and linking to the site where you found the picture are sufficient

    Here are a couple of resources for you:


    Well, rats. From (very helpful, thank you for the links!):

    “7. Don’t assume that if you credit the author there is no copyright infringement: a lot of people wrongly think that if they credit the author of an article or image they are not violating the copyright law. You can only use copyrighted material if you have explicit permission from the author to do so (or if you make fair use of it, as explained before).”



    I think it depends on the author and if they have any ‘noticeable’ copyright notices. I know that Flickr photos often have the copyright information to the right of the photo. If I personally don’t find any copyright information to guide me, I contact the author prior to using the photo. Seems like a good practice to me!




    i have to agree. While, as i said in the first place, credit is usually all that people will require, i play it safe by only using photos that are licensed under Creative Commons.



    Personally, I’d be very, very careful about using photos “from major decorating Web sites” or any other photo to which you don’t personally own the copyright. Go to each site and read their copyright and usage statement.

    When in doubt, ask. Actually, ask first so there is no doubt.

    Creative Commons licenses are all different; so there too, look at the license before using the image.



    There are free sources of images you can use with proper attribution.
    Here are a few but you can find others on the net as well:



    As long as you don’t alter the original photo, giving a link to credit the author/owner will be the first thing come to mind. In any case, some owner might email you if they do not wish their photos being used in your blog. I think is by far has the friendliest group of people who share their photos online.


    Photographers, particularly those that do it professionally, or semi-professionally, can be very unforgiving. You are better to ask permission prior to using the image, period.



    and so my friend. DO NOT USE images of others. *throws confettis*



    Here’s another post that’s full of sources of free photos for your blog



    Trent said: “I think it depends on the author and if they have any ‘noticeable’ copyright notices”

    Wrong – not having a noticeable copyright notice does not mean that the work is not copyrighted. It has to explicitly have a “free for use”/”given to public domain” or a creative commons share-alike license notice in order for anybody else to be allowed to use it.

    Knoizki said: “As long as you don’t alter the original photo, giving a link to credit the author/owner will be the first thing come to mind. In any case, some owner might email you if they do not wish their photos being used in your blog.”

    Wrong – altering a work (known as “derivative works”) is not allowed, unless explicitly stated by the copyright holder. And crediting the author/creator/copyright holder is not enough. You have to get explicit written permission from the copyright holder *before* you use his/her work.
    I have seen countless sites/blogs on the internet saying “Please e-mail me if this is your work and I will remove it”. It is a common misunderstanding that as long as the author has not disallowed use of his work in a specific situation, it is legal. Actually, it’s the other way around.
    Ultimately, you might risk that the e-mail you get won’t just be about removing the work – it may be a cease and desist declaration followed by legal action. In the case you have made any profit from the use you could be sued for damages, which could end out in a pretty nasty situation on your part.
    I’m not saying that this is going to happen in every case, I’m just saying that it is a realistic possibility.

    My advice is to only use creative commons material with appropriate credit, and otherwise ask for permission prior to posting.

    – Biyang Hansen



    All original works, whether image or text are automatically copyrighted in most countries.

    There are legal issues and then there are accepted practices. As with many issues, they diverge. Common practices include linking the picture to the source (not hotlinking), or crediting the source by name and/or link. Legally, there’s no justification for it, but it’s the most common procedure.



    Another way of thinking about it.
    If you took a picture of people you care for and I used that image on my blog, would you mind?
    Given you could not control the words around that or whether or not I had altered it then I imagine your response would be that you would mind. So act the same to other images?



    No, it is not legal – you need permission to use a photograph that is not yours – either explicit permission from the image owner, or if the photo has been licenced using a creative commons (cc) licence (which may have various stipulations to abide by).
    Photographs are intellectual property of the photographer by default.


    Thanks for all the great advice! I’m glad I checked. Yes, Mark, I can certainly see your point – actually I just saw a blog post where a man complained that a picture of his child had been used on someone else’s blog without asking. The man was a former lawyer, and he apparently quickly convinced them to take it down.
    I was hoping that, in my case, what I wanted to do would be 1.) legal, and 2.) provide a benefit to both readers and the sites I was referring to, because it would steer traffic to them. As in, say, I’d have a post on carving jack-o-lanterns, I’d show a few cool pictures of jack-o-lantern projects, and then if the reader was interested they could click and go to the site that had the instructions. I imagine I could accomplish the same thing, legally, by finding one free picture of a jack-o-lantern, and then posting a list of links to sites with jack-o-lantern underneath it.
    Thank you all for the helpful advice and the list of links to free pictures and saving me from those pesky, annoying lawsuits!

The topic ‘Is it legal to use photographs if I give proper credit?’ is closed to new replies.