March 14, 2021

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If you have ever taken a photo directly from Google and copy/pasted it into your own website, you’re probably a thief.

Now I know that may sound harsh, but technically speaking it’s true. The unfortunate thing about this is that you probably didn’t even realize that you are doing anything wrong.

You see, images, just like music and film, have usage rights. What this means is that in order to use an image on your website you need to obtain the rights to do so.

In today’s blog post we will cover:

  • What labeled for non-commercial reuse mean
  • Where to find free website images

What does labeled for non-commercial reuse mean?

In my opinion, there are two ways to explain what labeled for non-commercial reuse means.

1) The official explanation that most websites use: Labeled for noncommercial reuse means that the photo can be used in a non-commercial manner without any modifications.

2) A simpler explanation: When a photo is marked as “labeled for noncommercial reuse”, it means that you are able to reuse the photo as long as you are doing so in a place that doesn’t represent a commercial entity.

Meaning, these types of photos should be used in content that is completely separated from any type of business venture. Even if your blog or website isn’t currently making money, it has the potential to make money in the future, therefore it is technically a business.

Instead, photos with this usage right should be used in education, internal company presentations, and any other scenario where there is absolutely no chance of there being any profit obtained from the piece of work in which the photo is featured.

As an example, if you found a photo that was “labeled for non-commercial reuse”, you can use that image on a presentation at work, in a presentation for school, on an article of clothing that you intend on wearing (and not reselling), and really any other place that is not tied to business.

Oftentimes people think that usage rights are just legal jargon that can be ignored, but I recommend that you check out my blog post which outlines how Getty images has made a substantial profit off of small business owners who willingly or unknowingly steal website images.

One last thing that I want to point out is that you should always provide attribution to any free images you find. This isn’t required most of the time, but how would you feel if somebody took image you photographed and put it on their website without giving you credit?

This is more of a moral dilemma, but it’s just good karma to give credit where credit is due.

Where can I get website images?

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times people have asked me where they can get website images. Personally, I understand it. When you first start out with a website you don’t want to spend a bunch of money on super high quality images until you know that you are able to turn a profit.

Alamy:  This site has over 251 million images to choose from and you’ll have a difficult time NOT finding what you need.

Shutterstock: If you need really high-quality images, I highly recommend that you use Shutterstock.

The reality is that free images only go so far and eventually you may need a really nice picture for the homepage or other key pages on your website. This is the exact same company that I use for my really high quality images and I’ve joined their affiliate program because I know that this is a company who has great images at a very low cost compared to competitors.

  • Thank you this is an excellent article. I was not a hundred percent sure. Your explanation on non commercial reuse was simple and too the point.

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