Internet Images you CAN and CAN’T use on your Website

Today we are covering very sensitive topic i.e. which internet pictures you can actually use on your website without breaking any law. Why I am calling this topic sensitive? The reason is if you don’t pay a little attention, you can suffer a lot. Read the facts:

  • Using a Google image cost a blogger $8000 penalty (I am not going to specify the name here)
  • A web owner paid $4000 for copying a $10 image
  • There are lots of cases in which blogger got sued for embedding images

We all know the fact that images attract visitors and it also help to make your article even more compelling. And this is also true that you can’t generate all images by yourself. Sometimes you need to copy. Below we will tell you about the pictures you should never use and where you can find free images for your blog.

Which Internet Images you CAN and CAN'T actually use on your Website without breaking any copyright lawImage credit: wikimedia commons

Warning: Don’t copy-paste photos from

  1. Google Images
  2. Any personal website, unless the website owner allows you to do so
  3. Magazine website
  4. Corporate website
  5. Screenshot of Games
  6. Screenshot of paid Software
  7. Screenshot of any movie
  8. Non free web screenshot
  9. Movie poster
  10. Magazine or book cover

Once you caught/sued, you have to pay and it doesn’t matter if

  1. You have modified the picture
  2. The image displayed on your site is not full width
  3. You have provided the data source link
  4. You added the name of photographer with a link back to it
  5. You are using this on noncommercial platform
  6. Your site has privacy-policy or disclaimer page
  7. You did this by mistake
  8. You got the picture through email
  9. The picture is not saved on your server
  10. Most of the people and popular websites are already doing this
  11. You took down the image immediately after the DMCA or author request
    I am not a lawyer, but the “fair use” drama is little bit completed and varies country to country. So it’s better not to put yourself in this situation.

So what is left for me to use?

Public Domain: Old photos without any copyright, restriction and images with expired copyrights fall under public domain. There are millions of great pictures under public license.

Ask the author: Not a lot, but a few photographers won’t answer in negative if you ask for permission. It’s really worth it to contact them. At the same time, you are building relationships with others which is good for your brand.

Stock Images: There are few sites that offer high quality images (not for free). If you want, you can purchase them. iStockphotoeverstockphoto, Shutterstock are few examples.

Creative Commons (CC): Most of the images used on 3rank are creative commons. Wikimedia commons and Flickr are the most popular platform for distributing CC photos. However, you should keep in mind that all images used by these sources are not free to share.

  • Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic: Share but do not alter the image. You must credit the author. For non-earning websites only.
  • Attribution Noncommercial 2.0 Generic: Share/modify the image giving credit, but you can’t use it for making profits.
  • Attribution No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic: Share but can’t modify the image, Credit is necessary.
  • Attribution 2.0 Generic: Share or modify the image but you must credit the photographer

Make your own image: It’s better if you create your own infographics, charts. You can also upload them to Flickr where other bloggers can use it. Doing this will help you to gain brand visibility as well as natural backlinks.

Where can I find Images for my blog?

The top 10 sources where you can get high quality images:

The Free one

Wikimedia Commons: Most of their images fall under CC license and you must credit the source.

Flickr: An image website which is growing very fast. Do check the copyright restriction before using each photo.

Deviantart: A digital art website. All images are not free but you can get a lot of free stuff here.

Allfreedownload: Get free logos, web designs, cartoon, clipart and miscellaneous high quality images for free.

Pixabay: Pixabay provides free images and you don’t have to credit the author. Just copy and paste.

morgueFile: They have a collection of more than 300,00 images. In order to use them, you have to link back to the source.

Freefoto: It has more than 130,000 images with a watermark on the bottom right end corner and yes, you have to credit the photographer.

Non Free Sources

Dreamstime: It has a collection of royalty free stock photos as well as paid pictures starting at $0.26.

Fotolia: Fotolia has a large database of High Definition images. You have to pay $1 for XXL and$0.5 for Medium size image.

ShutterStock: Shutterstock is the home of 25 million high quality photos by haft million creative professional.  The price starts at /0.28 per image.


Use Google to get free images

It is really time consuming if you are searching images in all above website directory one by one. The best method is Use Google images.

Images from Google which are free to use

Just navigate to Google Images>>Search Tools >> Usage rights. That’s it. You will get all free available images on a single page and don’t forget to rename the image before uploading.

Bottom Line

Be very careful while finding pictures on the internet. A single copyright image can cost you thousands of dollars. Moreover, if you are using plenty of copied images, you will soon lose your advertising account (including AdSense, Infolinks, etc). Also, it’s not a secret that bunch of DMCA requests can hurt search engine ranking positions and so your business.

Don’t Copy, Be Original, Be Happy


Written by
Varun Kumar

I am a professional technology and business research analyst with more than a decade of experience in the field. My main areas of expertise include software technologies, business strategies, competitive analysis, and staying up-to-date with market trends.

I hold a Master's degree in computer science from GGSIPU University. If you'd like to learn more about my latest projects and insights, please don't hesitate to reach out to me via email at [email protected].

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