Images for blogs: Copyright laws, Search Engine Ranking and SEO

Are you a blogger, trying to figure out a way to get images for your blog and optimize them for search engines? Read this article to learn more about using images to rank better in search results, without violating any copyright laws.

Images add value to the blogs and also increases the reader engagement with your blog. But the real problem is, how do you find images to use in your blogs?

Images you find in websites and Google search are not free to use in your own blogs. Even if it is not explicitly mentioned, the images are copyrighted to people who created or photographed it. Using images taken from other sources without permission could lead to copyright infringement cases. Also, if you are using Google AdSense on your blog, Google could disable your AdSense account for the same.

General image posting guidelines

1. One of the best ways to get images for your blog is to photograph the pictures yourself using your camera. When you shoot photos and use in your blogs, make sure you add a watermark to the photos to reduce chances of others stealing your photos.

You may see many photographs in news and media sites. Unless such photos are shared by PR companies for the purpose of distribution in the media, you are not allowed to reproduce such images.

2. Another legal way of getting images is, getting them from the Press. You can subscribe to various press release channels and get press releases regularly. Such images shared through press releases can be posted in the blogs. However, some of the press distribution are paid channels and you cannot reproduce such content without paid subscription.

3. Get connected with PR companies. Usually, most products and brands use PR companies and share their product images and photos through PR companies. If you sign up with PR companies, you will regularly get lot of photos and press announcements from them.

4. If you are writing about gadgets and other products, generally it may be okay to reproduce original images from the manufacturer websites since that will indirectly help them. For example, if you are writing an article about Samsung Galaxy S5, it may be allowed to take photos of that device from the official website. It is better to look at the site and see if they have any copy right information published in the site.

5. Look for media resources. Most of the big brands will have a special section called "media" or "press". That section will have lot of photos and other information that media people like bloggers use without violating any copyright laws.

7. If you are using an application or software, it is generally allowed to make screenshots from your application and use in your blogs. However, it will be still a copyright infringement if you simply view a copyrighted image in your desktop and then take a screenshot of it.

8. Most brands will not allow you to use their logo in your websites. However, there could be special occasions when you will need to use such logos. For example, it is illegal to use Lenovo logo in any website. But if you are writing an article specifically about 'What is Lenovo's Logo?', then the post is incomplete without that logo. So, you may use the logo in the post explicitly stating this image is 'Lenovo's logo and is taken from this source'.

9. Posting photos of individuals are generally not allowed, unless there is a newsworthy incident about them. For example, if a person is caught by police for theft, then sharing his photos would be of public interest and you may be legally safe in doing the same. However, if you simply click a photo of your neighbor and share it in your blog, you could end up in jail while your neighbor is still enjoying the free air. Posting photos of a group of people without focusing any individuals are generally allowed. However, if you manage to click a photo of a girl when her skirt is slipped off, even if she is standing a crowd, you still can't post that photo. In case of public ceremonies and stage programs, you can take photos of people in the stage with your camera and publish in your blog.

10. Posting offensive photos of any individuals in a manner that defame them are generally not allowed. However, many people argue that posting semi-nude photos of celebrities are legally allowed. There is no hard and fast rule on this.

11. Taking photos of most of the buildings are allowed. Typically, you can capture photos of anything in the public place, except some places that are protected by the law. Govt. may ban photography of various buildings for security issues and national interest.

12. For biographies etc, you can better look at the related picture in wikipedia and check its copyright status. The copyright status is often explicitly given; and if it is free then there is absolutely no problem. In some other cases, the photographer's name is given. In that case, if we borrow the pictures and acknowledge the debt by adding something like "Image by Mr. ABC, borrowed from Wikipedia", then there will be no problem.

13. Pictures of great people of past can be used. After all, it is not possible for anyone today to shoot Einstein with his or her own camera! All pictures of Einstein available on the web are copied and are published on thousands of sites and there are no copyright issues involved in it. Please note that this is for "historical" people only and are not applicable for customized images of such people.

14. Tampering of any existing photo to make it look different should be avoided.

15. It is better to avoid images taken from royalty free image hosting websites. In many cases, such images are posted by other people, who simply steal them from other sources.

16. If you can afford to pay money, you can buy a lot of nice images from many image selling websites. Typically, such images cost from US$1 to US$5 per image.

If you want to be 100% compliant of all copy right rules, then your choices are limited to either make your pictures, take photos with your camera or pay money and buy the images! Search for stock images to learn more about purchasing photos. Many sites claim 'free photos', but if you read the details, you can see that we require to post a link to their website from all the pages where we use their free images. (or, they could be a fraud site who simply take pictures from internet and sell it.)

The bottom line is, ask yourself: Will the owner of the picture and the people in the photo be happy that you are re publishing it? If the answer is "NO", then you should not publish it. If you are in doubt, don't post it.

How to get royalty free images with no requirement to link back

Article by Tony John
Tony John is a professional blogger from India, who started his first Weblog in 1998 at Tony switched to blogging as a passion blended business in the year 2000 and currently operates several popular web properties including,, and many more.

Follow Tony John or read 692 articles authored by Tony John

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Author: Shravan15 Aug 2014 Member Level: Gold   Points : 6

Thanks a lot for sharing these tips for using images on blogs. If you will be using images very frequently in your blog posts, it makes a good sense to purchase membership of image stock website and use the images from there. There are many such websites offering subscriptions for as low as $5 per month. Most of the large companies also do not mind if you are using images from their official websites as it helps them too. However make sure that you don't use them at wrong places or degrade the images by doing modifications etc. Thanks once again Tony sir for sharing the tips. It will definitely help newbie bloggers like me.

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