You may have seen the recent story about how DKNY got in some hot water for using a photographer’s images without permission. While most of us will never be working with high-budget marketing groups, if we’re blogging and adding images to those posts to improve the draw we still need to worry if we have the right to use those images.

As in my prior blog posts here, in which I discuss the “Social stewardship of sharing” and more recently “On citing sources“, I’ve discussed why crediting is important from a social karma perspective. Today I’d like to share with you How to find images to use and provide credit to the originator as dictated by licensing so you won’t find yourselves in the same predicament as DKNY.

Many people think that if an image is available on the internet that it is fair game to reuse. That is simply not the case. In fact *most* images on the internet are not freely available, and especially so for commercial use. So how CAN you find images freely available to reuse on your blog for either personal or even commercial purposes? Great question! Thus far I’ve found three very useful tools:




If you’ve been reading our posts on Notes from Rational Support for a bit, you’ll likely have noticed our typical image crediting at the bottom when we use images not owned by IBM. Kelly tipped me off ages ago to using the Creative Commons attribution pool / search feature on to find fun and interesting images to accompany our blog posts there, and as the Creative Commons license specifies, we add the attribution credit to all images we use from this pool by setting a line at the end of the post noting “image credit: (cc) Some Rights Reserved  by <username linked to account>” It is a simple but effective method to help ensure proper image use as well as highlight the individuals who have graciously allowed use of their work.


What it all comes down to:

  • Use images! Visuals make your content more interesting, and also provide for richer posts on other social channels.
  • Use Creative Commons  search to filter by usage rights and find images which fit your usage needs.
  • If you don’t know the explicit rights, don’t use the image.
  • Credit the image owners, even if it isn’t required by the license: It’s just the right thing to do.


Crediting isn’t just nice, it is necessary to meet license requirements. Rather than simply take-take-take, we are able to borrow and then use our social currency to show direct appreciation to those whom have graciously shared their images for use via  Creative Commons licensing. Acknowledgement as a thank you takes so little time, but really means so much especially when the legal ramifications can be so costly… in today’s world of copyright and intellectual property thievery, it is important to stand up as a good internet citizen, to credit and show appreciation for those people who allow us use of their content to share-and-share-alike, and especially to be mindful of when we can’t use images and ensure that they don’t accidentally make it in to publication.

One thought on “Staying out of trouble by legally reusing photographs

Comments are closed.