Using Images In Blog Posts

Some of the common questions as people begin blogging are about images: how to credit them, what are the copyright regulations, and general proper blogging etiquette.

Images and the Fair Use Doctrine

First up, the legal stuff: images are copyright to the photographer. Unless you have received permission from the photographer, or they have licensed their work for creative commons, you are using any images you post under the US government’s doctrine of “fair use”.

You should read this short page for the complete information about fair use but to paraphrase, if you are using an image for the purposes of illustration or comment, are not using all or substantially all of the author’s work, and clearly notate the copyright owner of the work, you are falling under “fair use”.

As you can see on the copyright office’s page, the entire fair use area is gray. Here are a few things that are absolutes:

  • Getting approval from the owner means you are in the clear to use the image.
  • A creative commons license (which many bloggers who take their own photos provide in the terms and conditions of their site) means you are clear to use the image.
  • If the owner of an image asks you to take it down, take it down.  Period.
  • You should ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS credit the owner/photographer.  Even if you have permission.  Even if it’s creative commons.  Unless it’s something like a stock image you have purchased, this rule should be followed 100% of the time.
Blogging Etiquette

If you are a blogger yourself, it is a great idea to have a policies or terms page on your site, telling your readers whether or not they are free to use the photos (and content) that you have posted and in what manner.

When you post images that you do not own, I think it bears repeating that you should always credit the photographer.  You should also credit the source of the information (where you found it), and any sources that they have named.  For example, I posted an image last week on Elizabeth Anne Designs that I found through the blog Little White Book.  She found the image via the Ruby Press blog.  The original image was from the blog Matt Bites, who is the original owner of the photo.  So my full credit was: image by Matt Bites, via Ruby Press and Little White Book.

It doesn’t cost anything to be nice and give credit where credit is due, so pretty please be nice and link to everyone who helped you find the image!

Other bloggers and photographers, do you have tips to share on image etiquette or guidelines for usage?

20 responses to Using Images In Blog Posts
  1. RT @amiatEAD: New on Edit and Post: Using Images in Blog Posts – etiquette and legalities

  2. RT @amiatEAD: New on Edit and Post: Using Images in Blog Posts – etiquette and legalities

  3. I think building a relationship with photographers whose work you really like is a great thing. Just a simple email to them really goes a long way.

    I always make sure I credit how I found the image, as I would expect other bloggers to do the same.

    Great post – as I know in recent months this has been a huge question mark for a lot of people.
    .-= Brit´s last blog post: snapknot: finding your photographer =-.

  4. Great post! RT @amiatEAD: New on Edit and Post: Using Images in Blog Posts – etiquette and legalities

  5. Too many of my images have been "borrowed" on the web without providing credit or link back. Nice article on etiquette

  6. Emilie writes... {April 1, 2010 at 5:39 am}

    Great article!! People should be more careful on this!! Thanks for the reminder!

  7. Kara Hudson writes... {June 17, 2010 at 8:38 pm}

    Your description of what fair use is, is completely and totally WRONG. Taking someone’s image from their blog and using it to illustrate your own blog post is not fair use – it’s theft of intellectual property. I’d suggest you actually consult an IP attorney before publishing information like this and advising people to steal images for their own use.

    • Ami writes... {June 17, 2010 at 9:06 pm}

      Hi Kara! I work closely with an intellectual property attorney, as all bloggers should.

      To respond to your comment, the exact phrasing from the U.S. Copyright Office page that I linked to states:

      “Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.”

      The word “illustration” in the post text does not refer to adding beautiful imagery to a post, unless of course imagery is used with permission, rather illustration in terms of illustrating a point, which falls under comment and criticism. Also, if you read the article in its entirety, I simply stated what fell under Fair Use, per the above guidelines from the US Copyright Office. I did not opine on whether any specific use or action was Fair Use, and certainly did not advocate using images without permission.

      Thanks for stopping by Edit and Post and I hope you are having a wonderful Thursday!

  8. if you like it enough to share it, give credit to source: Using Images In Blog Posts | Edit and Post

  9. Hi, I came across this useful post as ive been looking for more information on crediting…
    My style of blogging is every visual and I edit most of the pictures I find on the web. i create boards or make posters of various images…hence using 30-40 images in creating a single poster. Would I need to credit each of these images?

    Thanks P

    • Ami writes... {August 5, 2011 at 7:56 am}

      Hi Peeps. You would need to ask permission for each photo. And of course you would need to ask them for permission to edit the image. Hope that helps!

    • Ami writes... {August 5, 2011 at 7:58 am}

      And after re-reading your comment, YES you have to credit every single image you use that is not your copyright.

  10. Nice article..Thanks for these reminders..
    .-= MT-Francis´s last blog post: Personalities on HP TouchPad Commercial [Video] =-.

  11. Very useful article on using images in blog posts – legalities (U.S.) and etiquette via @amiatead #blog

  12. Photos these days are becoming one great feature of every website. There are even blog photo posts which looks very nice. IMO
    .-= Ashton´s last blog post: Fix Connection Issues With Your iPad =-.

  13. Hi, this is really useful article. I was wanting to know in the example you gave did you have to ask permission from each blog it was posted on or just from the original photographer Matt Bites ? If you credit the image correctly do you always have to get permission to use it?

    • Ami writes... {January 30, 2012 at 10:01 am}

      hi susie! the only person that needs to give permission is the original copyright holder, which would be matt bites. US copyright laws require that you always obtain permission of the copyright holder, with very limited exception.


  14. You could definitely see your enthusiasm within the work you write.

    The sector hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

  15. “Using Images In Blog Posts | Edit and Post” was a terrific blog post and also I really was
    in fact quite joyful to locate the blog. Many thanks-Liam

  16. Thank you for at least trying to get the word out! Another big source of frustration for me is when one blog lifts content from another and then credits the other blog as the photographer. NO! The photographer is me, and not only did I not give them permission to post my images, they add insult to injury by not crediting me!

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