Alice Keeler put it perfectly in her blog post – “That Image is Not Yours. Do Not Touch” (see the link below). Copying someone’s words OR images is plagiarizing. Period. Using copyright material also leaves you open to copyright infringement.

So what does this mean?

You need to:

  1. Learn what images you are and aren’t allowed to use, and why.
  2. Learn how to attribute images you are allowed to use.
  3. Educate your students that you can’t just use any images off the Internet on their blogs
  4. Show them how to source and attribute images they are allowed to use.

Understanding digital copyright is an essential skill we need to understand.

“So what am I to do?” you ask…”I have no artistic talent and my website or blog will be hideous with no image content!”

The safest way to source images for your blog is to either:

  • Use Creative Commons images.
  • Use free public domain images.
  • Use your own photos or use images you’ve created.


Creative Commons, founded in 2001, is an organization which provides free content license known as a creative commons license that people can apply to their work.

When you license your work with creative commons, you are giving people the permission to use it without having to ask permission, provided they use it in the manner stated in your creative commons license.

The reason people use creative commons licenses is to make it easier for everyone to share and adapt creative work without the concern of copyright infringement.

Watch this video on Creative Commons.

Watch this video for a summary of the different creative commons’ licences.

Creative commons licenses are used for books, websites, blogs, photographs, films, videos, songs and other audio & visual recordings.

If an image, or website, doesn’t include a Creative Commons license, or isn’t public domain work, or indicates that the content is free to use than it automatically implies all content is copyright and you shouldn’t use!

There are a websites that provide public domain images that are free to use, or have their own free to use licensing, but you need to make sure sure you follow their terms and conditions of use.

For those wondering, unless a blogger includes a Creative Commons license, all content on that blog is automatically the copyright of the blogger.


One of the most common sources of Creative Commons images used by bloggers is Flickr (an online photo sharing website).

Unfortunately many assume Flickr images are licensed under creative commons and allowed to be used.  This isn’t the case.

Images marked as “All Rights Reserved” are copyrighted and require permission from the person who uploaded it to Flickr.  Images with “Some rights reserved” means the Flickr user has applied a Creative Commons license to their photo and you can use the image in the manner specified by the license.

If you look at images directly on Flickr always check to see which license applies to ensure you only use the image in the manner specified by the license.

The license is listed below the image.

For those you might be allowed to use click on “Some rights reserved”.

Flickr Licence

This takes you to the Creative commons licence where you can read how you are allowed to use the image.

Creative Commons


The best option for finding Flickr Creative commons images is to use one of the great Flickr Search Engines.


Compfight is one of the most popular Flickr Search engines.  It provides a range of search options including search by tags only vs. all the text, licenses, the option to show or hide originals and turn on/off the safe content filter.

All images above the line returned by your Compfight search are professional stock photos — they aren’t free to use.  Those below the line are Flickr Photos.


Photos for Class

Photos for Class

Photos for Class is a student friendly place for searching safe images from Creative Commons Flickr.

The downloaded images include attribution of the photographer and the image license terms.

Multicolr Search Lab

multicolor search

Multicolr Search Lab allows you to search Flickr images by color.  This is a handy tool when you’re trying to match specific colors.  All you need to do is select up to 5 colors.

Creative Commons and image attribution

It’s a requirement of all Creative Commons Licenses that you attribute the original author.  This means you can’t just use a creative commons image without acknowledging the person who originally created it.

Within or at the end your blog post you must attribute the image, include their copyright information and you should link the photo back to it’s original photo page.

Here’s an example of image attribution:

Pink Cake

Photo by Chotda licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.


Here’s how easy it is to find an image on Comfight and add it to your post with image attribution:

1.  Go to Compfight and enter your search term.

Make sure Creative Commons and Safe search is selected.

Searching Compfight

2. Click on the creative commons image you want to use.

Click on the image

3.  This launches a pop up image window.

Pop up image window

4.  Click on ‘Some Rights Reserved‘ to check the creative commons license.

5.  Click on ‘Download‘ next to the size you want to use to download it onto your computer.

Click on Download

6.  Click on Add Media icon in your post editor.

add media icon

7.  Click on ‘Upload Files’ and then ‘Select Files’.

Add Media

8.  Locate the image on your computer and click Open to upload.

9.  While your image is uploading you will see a progress bar.

10.  Once the image has uploaded add the (1) image title, (2) alternative text, (3) paste the HTML code into the caption, (4) Select Custom URL, (5) Paste original image location, (6) Select full size and then click (7)  Insert into Post.

adding creative commons image

11.  Your image will insert and look like this.

Pink Cake
Photo Credit: chotda via Compfight cc


There are websites that provide public domain images that are free to use, or have their own free to use licensing.

Public domain works are those works that:

  1. Automatically enter public domain when created because they are not copyrightable.
  2. Their copyright has expired.
  3. Their creator has assigned their work to public domain.

Public domain images are free and available for unrestricted use.


Public domain images and free to use images may not have a strict legal requirement of attribution, depending on the jurisdiction of content reuse, and depending on the terms and conditions of use of content from the website, but attribution is recommended to give correct provenance.  This means within or at the end your blog post you must attribute the image, include their copyright information and you should link the photo back to it’s original photo page.


Here’s some good free and public domain image websites to use with students:



Pixabay is a curated repository for finding and sharing public domain images.  All of the images on Pixabay can be used freely in digital and printed format, for personal and commercial use. Attribution to the original author is not required.



Openclipart is a gallery of clip art images that have been released into the public domain that can be used freely, for personal and commercial use, without attribution.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons is a media file repository for public domain and freely-licensed educational media content, including images, sound and video clips.

Images and other media on Wikimedia Commons are almost all under some kind of free license (usually public domain, CC-BY, CC-BY-SA, or GFDL (GNU Free Documentation license).

Clicking on an image or media file on Wikimedia Commons takes you to the information page for that file. This is where you’ll find the information supplied by the uploader, including the copyright status, the copyright owner, and the license conditions.

The following image from Wikimedia Commons is license under GNU Free Documentation and Creative Commons ShareAlike 3.0.

License information

The Commons

Flickr Commons

The Commons was set up to help share photos and images from the World’s public photography archives.  There is over 56 institutions contributing images to The Commons.

A special rights statement — ‘No known copyright restrictions’ — was created to provide a copyright framework allowing institutions to add their photos to Flickr Commons and define how the public could use their work through their own rights statement.

Once you’ve located an image on The Commons you should click on the ‘No known copyright restrictions’ beneath the image.

This takes you to the Rights Statement for the Institution who supplied the image.  This is where you’ll find information on how the institution would like the image to be attributed.


Below is an example of attributing an image from The Commons.

River Cave, Margaret River [Western Australia, 2] [Frank Hurley] Courtesy of the National Library of Australia
River Cave, Margaret River [Western Australia, 2] [Frank Hurley] Courtesy of the National Library of Australia

Getty Open Content images

Getty Open Content

Getty Open Content images are all available digital images to which the Getty holds the rights or that are in the public domain to be used for any purpose. No permission is required.

The Getty requests that you use the following source credit when reproducing an image:

Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

Here’s an example of attributing an image from Getty’s open content program.

Vincent van Gogh [Dutch, 1853 - 1890], Irises, Dutch, 1889, Oil on canvas, Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.
Vincent van Gogh [Dutch, 1853 – 1890], Irises, Dutch, 1889, Oil on canvas, Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

Getty Images

Getty Images

Getty Images is an American Stock photo agency which allows their images to be used for free for non-commercial use.  Getty Images have no relationship with the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Getty Open Content images.

Once you have found an image on Getty Images you can embed it into a post or page using their embed code as follows:

1.  Hover your mouse over the image you want to use.

2.  This launches an image preview window with more information and a link to the embed option.

3.  Click on the Embed link.

Click on Embed code

4.  Copy the embed code.

Copy the embed code

5.  Place your cursor in the post where you want you it to be embedded and click on Add Media button.

Click an Add Media

6.  Click on Insert Embed Code.

Insert Embed code

7.  Paste the embed code into the Insert Embed code box and click Insert into post.   

Paste Embed code

8.  When you have finished writing click Publish.

Click Publish

11.  You should now see the Getty image embedded in your post with full attribution like shown below.


The alternative options to sourcing images from other websites is to upload your own photos or create images using online tools.

Image editing tool

Here’s some ideas for creating your own images:

  1. Comic Generators like ToonDoo
  2. Photo Editors like Befunkyfd’s Flickr Tools
  3. Tag Cloud Creators such as Wordle
  4. Graph Creators including GraphJam and Crappy Graphs
  5. Fun photo tools CutMyPicDeefuniaGlitterflyPhotoFuniaSays It recommended by the Daring Librarian.  For more check out WebTools4U2 for other great tools for creating your own images.

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