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Finding Royalty Free Stock Photos For Your Next Project

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Finding high quality, royalty-free stock photos can be a real challenge.  A Lot of stock photos look like stock photos or require payment or attribution.  This can be a real problem for low cost creators, people getting started out, or people who struggle to keep track of all the images they use.  The best solution to this is to use a simple service that provides royalty-free and attribution-free images for your next project. Or you can simply use your own photos.  

My favorite free image service is Pexel.  I like Pexel because it is free, does not require attribution, and also has a good assortment of photos depending on the topic.  Of course, the service is not perfect and it would be nice to have more available images for download, but we do what we have to do to stay on the right side of the law.  

Don’t Get Sued For Stealing Images

It is very easy to get sued if you use an image you find in a Google search, even if the copyright has not been registered with the United States government.  Generally, damages could range anywhere from the $500-$3000 per image for a simple infringement, however some copyright settlements can reach up to millions of dollars per image for commercial use.  Also, with modern technology, it is very easy for specialized companies to find images which infringe on the copyright owner’s legitimate interest in the image.

In other words, do not resort to using a photo that you do not have the right to use.  

As An Alternative, Transformation Or Fair Use Allows Use of Copyrighted Images

If you change and transform someone else’s work into your own work, you may be allowed to to bypass someone’s copyright and use an image or copyrighted work.  Other categories of Fair Use also exist which allow images to be used without owning the copyright.

Fair use categories include commentary, criticism, parody, news reporting, research, and academic use.  Fair use is a defense to being sued and it is not always clear what is fair use and what is not. The factors for fair use are:

  1. The purpose and the character of the use (is it transformative?),
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work,
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and
  4. The Effect on the copyrighted work’s value.

You should take note that merely disclaiming that you do not own the work is not a defense to copyright infringement.  In fact, a disclaimer could potentially make it so that a judge will more easily find that you did infringe the copyrighted work.  For example, posting a Disney video on Youtube will violate Disney’s copyright even if you disclaim that no infringement was intended. However, posting short clips of Disney movies and discussing the plot or filmography in the same video will probably be considered fair use.

My Favorite Options For Stock Photos

If you go premium, I recommend Adobe and Shutterstock.  Both of these have subscription models and deep libraries of photos. If you need more than several images, the price can add up very quickly.  However, if you want to go free, I think Pexel is a good option. Unfortunately, Pexel does not have the deep libraries that Adobe or Shutterstock have, but it is a great option for the lower budget project or when you need a quick photo but do not want to pay royalties or place an attribution on your site.  

I recently wrote an article on choosing a provider for your custom domain email.  You can check it out here

Author: Kelton Johnson

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Kelton Johnson

Attorney, Marketing Enthusiast, Business Manager

I live in Orange County, California and can often be found wandering the coastline and mountains in Southern California. I always seek to learn new things and share my passions with others. I am a California-licensed attorney and internet marketer. Join me in my journey of discovery as I share (hopefully) useful gems of knowledge with my readers every week.

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