In the file-sharing world of the web, it’s easy to forget that every bit of content has a
creator, each one with a different personality. Some content creators are the happy
type, with a free-loving, “Mi casa es su casa” outlook on their web creations, and
they encourage others to freely use their photos.
On the other hand, many other folks reserve some or all rights to their photos. And
taking photos from the forbidden copyright tree could result in legal action against
you, or, at the very least, a few angry emails.
In any case, when using non-original images on your business blog or website,
make sure you use photos under the appropriate license. Photos under Creative
Commons licenses provide a great source for fair-use photos. You can almost always
use photos under creative commons licenses as long as you provide appropriate
attribution to the author.
Where can you find Creative Commons photos? One easy-to-use option is Flickr.
Let us walk you through the step-by-step guide to searching Creative Commons
photos in Flickr and how to attribute the photos to their authors.
1. Start by logging into your account on the social photography network
Flickr.com. If you don’t have an account, you can create one by following this
2. Search for photos using the search bar at the top of the page. In this example,
I’m searching for “cat.”
3. When you hit search, every picture on Flickr with the tag “cat” appears. To
find photos under Creative Commons Licenses, click the Advanced Search
link to the right of the search bar.
4. At the bottom of the Advanced Search page, you can filter search results by
limiting your search to photos under Creative Commons licenses. Check all
three boxes, and then click “Search” to begin finding usable photos.
5. Now Flickr has only retrieved photos that are free to use under the Creative
Commons License. You should double check under the search bar to ensure
the correct filters were used.
Remember the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Today’s golden rule is to attribute to others as you would have them attribute to
The Creative Commons License allows you to fairly use other people’s work as long
as you attribute it back to the creator. Typically, the author will specify how he or
she would like the work to be attributed.
When an author doesn’t provide any instruction, follow these steps to give proper
1. Cite the photo’s title and the author’s Flickr account. You should also insert a
hyperlink that links back to the creator’s photo and his or her author’s profile page,
2. In addition, you should cite under which version of the Creative Commons
license you are using the photo. On the photo page, clicking on the picture’s license
information (to the right of the photo) will take you to the Creative Commons
3. When adding this image on your blog or website, be sure to insert a link to the
picture’s corresponding license. The Creative Commons page below explains, in
detail, the terms of the photo’s usage.
Below, we’ve put together a properly used Creative Commons photo.
Cat in the Box/ By admiller / This photo is being used under a Creative Commons
Congratulations! Now that you have millions of fair use Flickr photos at your
fingertips, you can find that perfect image for your next blog post or website.
About the Author, Nicholas Schneider:
Nick is Bluegill Creative’s newest intern, Google AdWords wizard, and Robert Pattinson look-alike. He is a senior in Advertising at the University of Tennessee.