Social Media Tip of the Day: Legal Images

Paul Gillin

by Paul Gillin

It’s often said that copyright on the Internet is an oxymoron, and a scan of the Web would bear that out.

Google Image Search makes it easy to find pictures to dress up blog entries, and many bloggers freely liberate copyrighted images without attribution or a link to the source.

But the fact that we can behave badly doesn’t mean we should. There are a variety of ways to find images covered by Creative Commons licensing, which permits them to be used without permission or even attribution.

Google’s Advanced Image Search enables you to specify five different levels of permission. The same goes for Yahoo Advanced Image Search, although apparently not for Bing. Flickr also has a Creative Commons option, which enables you to narrow your search to freely usable images.

My favorite site for free pix, though, is Wikimedia Commons, a massive database of images, sounds and videos that contributors have uploaded for free distribution. While not comprehensive, Wikimedia Commons is a particularly good resource for historical photos and those from government agencies. There are a lot of military photos there, but you can also find some great old artwork and sketches that are no longer protected by copyright.


This tip may have appeared in one form or another in Paul’s newsletter, blog, or news column.

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Paul Gillin is a writer, speaker and business adviser who specializes in the strategic use of social media. Since 2005, he has written four books and published more than 130 articles about the changes in markets and society being driven by media democratization. His books include , The New Influencers, Secrets of Social Media Marketing and Social Marketing to the Business Customer. Paul writes the monthly New Channels column for BtoB Magazine. He is a research fellow at the Society for New Communications Research and serves on the Procter & Gamble Digital Advisory Board.

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