Some of you may have noticed it before: Downloading foreign pictures from the internet and using them for your own purposes can be quite expensive! In addition, you can expect a visit from the judge under certain circumstances.
Why? Because many of the images available on the Internet and in image search engines are protected by copyright.
Bloggers and website operators however need pictures for the posts of their websites to make them more attractive for the visitor. We have compiled everything about royalty-free, free images and where to get them in the following article.
What are royalty-free, free images?
Every person who creates a picture, whether painted or photographed, is the originator of that picture, so he also owns the copyright. One part of this copyright is the right of use, which allows the person who owns it to use the picture, whether privately or commercially. The author can decide whether he or she wishes to retain the right of use only for himself or herself or whether he or she wishes to pass it on to others with restrictions. He can thus determine who, when, where, what may be done with his picture.
If the author assigns the right of use to another person, the buyer acquires a license for the said image against payment. Agreements are made between both parties to ensure a smooth procedure. Such negotiations are often time-consuming and nerve-wracking and often lead to disagreements.
The solution is offered by Internet portals, on which companies and private persons make their own images publicly available without agreeing on a license with the users of these images.
The difference between license-free and free images
But be careful! There is a crucial difference between royalty-free images and free images.
Because: The term royalty-free is not synonymous with the terms free or free of charge.
A license usually means a restriction for the image user and the term royalty-free indicates that unrestricted use of the image is offered. However, most providers do allow this service to be paid for. The user pays the originator a one-time fee and can then use the image in question freely and as often as he or she wishes.
Free pictures are, to the dismay of most, rather a special case. Here it is usually the case that either the author renounces his rights to the picture in the public interest or there is simply nobody left who can enforce the author’s rights (e.g. in case of death).
Images marked as public domain may be copied, modified and used by anyone at will. There are no conditions for this and there are no costs for the user.
However, meanwhile another kind of free images is spreading on the Internet.
Especially professional photographers offer their pictures on the corresponding websites as free of charge. Free in this case means that you don’t have to pay any money to use the image. Instead, however, a license is imposed on the user: He must place a Backlink to the corresponding creator under the used image or at least mention his name.
Private and commercial use of the pictures
There is also a difference in the purpose of the images. Depending on how you use the images, there are a few things you need to be aware of. Otherwise legal problems may arise.
You can use a downloaded image privately if you want to send it to friends or if you want to celebrate a party and have the corresponding image printed on the invitation. Since you do not want to earn money with the use of this image, i.e. you are not pursuing any commercial interest, the use is classified as private. This is allowed with all free photo databases.
The situation is different when using downloaded images in a commercial context. Here are some restrictions you should keep in mind to avoid problems.
Let’s get back to the party example: You have sent the invitations for your party to your friends and now you charge admission. So you use the image printed on the invitation commercially because you want to earn money with the party.
Royalty-free images can be used commercially in the following contexts:
- on blogs or business websites such as the Inez blog or the Inez website
- on posters, in catalogues, on flyers, in newspapers or magazines
- usually also the sale of the media containing the printed image
The following restrictions must be observed:
- the corresponding image must not be present only on the medium of use (postcard, blog post, magazine page) This is also called stand-alone motif and is not allowed
- in the case of sexist content, criminal content, damage to reputation or similar, the image may also not be used
- the resale of the pictures and the free offering on other websites is usually also prohibited
To be on the safe side, you should in any case pay close attention to the individual regulations before you use the image commercially.
Provider for license-free, free images
Of course, we don’t want to leave you out in the rain after all the information about the topic. Therefore we now list some providers for royalty-free, free images.
You can find such images in image databases, communities or at stock photo providers. But also individual photographers make image galleries available for free on the Internet.
Image databases, communities and stock photo providers:
Picture galleries of photographers:
License-free, free images – Now no more puzzles
With this article you should have learned the most important things about royalty-free and free images from the Internet.
As long as you know the differences and pay attention to the various restrictions, you are on the safe side.
If you are still unsure: you better play it safe!
Take the trouble and contact the originator of the image to be used, instead of later violating the right of use and accepting penalties.
Thank you for your visit and good luck for your next picture project.