Chris asked me a great question:
What’s a good policy on using photos from other sources when you blog? Can you use other sources as long as you credit them?
I am no expert on copyright, so what follows is mostly ‘common sense’ advice. What happens if you find an amazing picture on a site that would be perfect for your post? Do you use it?
My advice is you should use the picture ONLY if you can find on the site where the owner has given you express permission to use their pictures. If they don’t list this somewhere on their blog, look on their About page, or they may have a Creative Commons logo that will tell you if you can use the content on that site.
So if you can’t tell if it’s ok, assume it is not. And if you DO use a picture, always make sure you include a link back to the source. Even if the person doesn’t ask for this (they should).
Now, what’s the best source of pictures you can use on your blog?
My favorite is Flickr. Flickr has hundreds of millions of amazing photos posted by its users. When the user uploads the photos, they set whether or not everyone else can use their photos, and under what license. Not everyone will give you permission to use their photos, but when you are talking about hundreds of millions of photos, the odds are you can find something that will work for you.
Each picture you find will list on the bottom right of the screen either ‘All Rights Reserved’ or ‘Some Rights Reserved’. If it says ‘All Rights Reserved’, then you can’t use it unless the owner gives you explicit permission. If the photo says ‘Some rights reserved’, then you can use it, but under the terms of its license. You can click where it says Some rights reserved to learn exactly what those terms are.
Here is an explanation of the different types of Creative Common licenses:
Attribution: This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.
Attribution – ShareAlike: This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.
Attribution – NoDerivs: This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.
Attribution – NonCommerical: This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.
Attribution – NonCommercial – ShareAlike: This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.
Attribution – NonCommercial-NoDerivs: This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.
So how do you attribute works on Flickr?
The photo above came from Flickr, from a user that licensed the photo via the Attribution license. That means I am free to use the photo, and could have also adapted it if I wanted to. For example, if I want to later use it in a slidedeck, I could, as long as I added attribution.
How I attribute photos from Flickr is via this method. I add the following at the end of the post ‘Pic via Flickr User (User’s name)’. I then add two links to this, where ‘Flickr User’ is, I add a link to the CC license that covers the picture. Where the user’s name is, I add a link to that user’s Flickr photostream. Now you can do this, or link to the picture itself. And for some pictures, the user will specify exactly what link they want you to use, and in that case you should if you use their photo.
So that’s where I go for amazing photos, what sources do you use?