Nearly every publication, whether it is a website, advertisement or a magazine, uses images to capture the attention of their audience. Finding images for free on the internet can be a fun and rewarding experience if done properly and with respect to laws and the rights of the publisher.
Images can enhance any project
When an artist or writer creates a work, often they will select or gather images that pertain to the specific idea in which they are writing.
Engaging images in the content appeal to the visual perception of the reader, if there were no images at all then even the best written publication my be overlooked. Regardless of the saying “you cannot judge a book buy it’s cover” it can certainly help grab the attention of browsers and potentially turn them into a sale.
Images which relate to the topic at hand help the reader to visualize the essence of a presentation or article. If considering the use of pictures on a blog or website, images named in relation to the written content, help a website to be found by potential visitors. Engaging website content certainly provides an enhanced experience for the visitor.
Best places to find Free Images
Many sources exist to obtain images for free of charge. One of the easiest solutions that many often overlook is simply using a digital camera to take pictures to generate images. When capturing images it is important that trademarked symbols and logos are not in the photo or are not easily recognizable.
Wikimedia commons is a popular website for royalty free content. This search wiki has thousands if not millions of contributors which upload their content and share it according to specific creative commons licensing. Content is easily found through various search criteria including source, license, author , location, type, and content topic.
Flickr is another source to find images for free, which is literally inexhaustible. Millions of people share images on this social network every day and many are often personal images which have no commercial royalty implications. Flickr has recently implemented a licensing option for images. The license is clearly stated by creative commons in order to avoid any confusion. If there is a question regarding the license of an image, a messaging tool allows users to send messages; and most photographers will allow their images to be used at no cost if credit is given for their work.
Although it may be a common practice by some to browse Google images for free pictures, this is not a recommended method. The search engine robot indexes these images without regard to licensing or royalties, and the search display relies upon the website owner to protect or allow the images to be indexed. Images which appear in the search results are subject to copyright, which is stated in the search query.
Copy images to a website
Once a source has been selected for free images, the next step is to determine how the images can be transferred to a publication. The method of transfer depends upon how and where the images will be used. The same method for posting an image to a social blog may not apply to saving an image for printing in a magazine or postcard.
Downloading free images and creating hotlinks to free images is demonstrated in a video titled “images for free” which provides a brief overview of this process. As these general methods are learned webmasters can then build upon these skills to further enhance and refine the process.
However, some website administrators consider hotlinking to be bandwidth theft, especially if their website cost is determined by the amount of bandwidth used each month. Copying images to a social blog or bulletin board post is very simple for websites that have implemented a hotlink code method. These websites will often display a share or post feature. HTML and/or BBcode are two of the typical options that allow for easy hotlinking of freely shared images.
Displaying a free hotlinked image on a blog, website or bulletin board could not be easier. When a hotlinked image is utilized this will offload the bandwidth from the website being displayed. To use an image as a hotlink it is best to find a site that generates this code already, then the code can be used as a template to utilize this for other free images from sites that do not generate the code. Typically code will be generated for Bulletin Board (BBCode) or pure Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML). This code can then simply be copied from the site and pasted directly into a form for a bulletin board post or into a websites html page by content management system (CMS) tool etc.
Copy images to a computer
Certain creative commons licenses allow for derivative works. This means that the image can be changed and manipulated to suit a webmasters needs or content. However, attribution must be given to the original author of the work that was copied freely. Most artists and photographers will allow their images to be used if proper credit is given for their work.
Organization planning should be the first priority for a webmaster that plans to build a local image cache for offline manipulation. External storage has become relatively inexpensive and it is a good idea to purchase a storage device or even online storage when planning to build an image library. Also, it is good to plan a file and folder structure according to a commonly known standard. This can be accomplished by naming folders according to date, subject, topic or even season, etc. Many image editing applications provide a image name prefix to be added to each image as it is saved or processed. It is much easier to plan this ahead of time rather than depending on software to help organize later. The time saved in creating an efficient structure will be well valued in the long run.
If a webmaster allows their images to be copied for free, then it is very easy to copy the images to a local PC. Most websites allow the right click option to be used which will produce a menu option “save as” or “save target as” when right clicking on top of a website image. Again make certain this is allowed prior to copying images. Nothing could be worse than building a great web page or nice looking web post and then receive a DMCA take down notice. It is always better to ask first as many professional photographers will allow their images to be copied free of charge as long as they are given credit for their photography work.
Legally copying free images
Intellectual property laws have recently become a more prevalent issue since the inception of the internet. Hence the US government has heightened copyright laws and penalties for breach of copyright. If a webmaster were to receive a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) take down notice from an internet service provider or other legitimate authority it is in the best interest of the webmaster to immediately comply with the request. This is especially true if the webmaster knows that they have copied the image from another website.
Creative commons licensing has made it easy for artists and publishers to share their creative works with the world. This licensing model is not only applicable to images, but to written works and video media as well. It highly recommended that all web content creators become familiar with the creative commons licensing structure prior to seeking to obtain free images.
With a little time and research, artists, webmasters, developers and graphics designers can find many sources of images for free on the internet. All image content needs can be fulfilled while complying with copyright laws, this will help to build relationships with content providers for months and years to come.