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While some people may not think so (or at least act like it), copyright laws still apply when writing or posting on the web. One of the biggest ways that copyright laws are often ignored is in the use of pictures on blogs. It’s so easy to download images and upload them again that copyright laws sometimes go right out the window. If you have this attitution, however, you can run into some big trouble. This post will hopefully clear up (1) Why bloggers should stay legal with picture use and (2) How to stay legal without having to hire a full time photographer. First, the reasons why you should respect copyright of photos.

Why Bloggers Should Respect Copyright On Pictures

First of all, its the right thing to do! In this day and age, the ability to do something  translates for many people into “I will do it.” Stealing a photo is still stealing. Yes its easy. Yes you can get away with it. Most of the time. That leads me to my second reason…

You can get caught! And sued! Big time! This is especially true if you start using photos from the big photo and newswire agencies such as AP, Reuters, or Getty Images. They have lots of money and they make lots of money syndicating out their content and images to websites and news organizations. The photos they sell can be expensive. If they catch a small blogger using them, what chance do you think you will stand against a team of lawyers? If you have used many different pictures from these services, you can get in major trouble.

Basically, to stay safe and stay ethical, you should refrain from indiscriminate “use” of other’s copyrighted images. To find out more about copyright online go here: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/07/07/copyright-explained-i-may-copy-it-right/

The rest of this article will explain ways you can use photos from throughout the web on your blog posts, without spending lots of money or hiring a photographer.

How To Find Images You Can Use On The Web

Note: Copyright law can be confusing. Before you use any of these tips, know that I am not a lawyer and am not offering legal advice. Anything you do is your own responsibility. OK, disclaimer over.

Here are some of the best sources for images that can be used. Some of these images require attribution to the author for use. Some can be freely used as they are in the Public Domain. I recommend reading up at each source what their licensing agreement is.

Government

Photo Of Uncle Sam Courtesy Of Uncle Sam

For bloggers who are writing on politics, one of the best sources of public domain photographs is the good old U.S. Government. The images that the U.S Government produces are automatically in the public domain and free of copyright. There are two ways to get these photos.

First, go to Google Images. Type in “site.gov” (without parentheses) and then the term that you want to search. For example, if you are looking for pictures of Obama that can be used without any copyright restrictions, type in “site.gov Obama” into the search bar. Click on the link to see this search in action. Typing in site:.gov before the term is a search operator that only gives results for sites with a “.gov” domain. This is a great way to find political photos.

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