Using Images In Blog Posts

Some of the most common questions people encounter as they begin blogging revolve around images: how to credit them, what the copyright regulations are, and general, proper blog image etiquette.

Using Images in Blog Posts

Images and the Fair Use Doctrine

First up, the legalities: images are copyright to the photographer. Unless you are the photographer, 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, there are four factors at play:

  1. The purpose and character of the use (commercial? non-profit?)
  2. The nature of the work itself
  3. The amount used of the work as a whole
  4. The effect of your use upon the market value of the work
Blogging Etiquette

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 credit the owner/photographer.  Even if you have permission.  Even if it’s creative commons.  Unless it’s your image, or a stock image that does not require crediting (aka “attribution”), this rule should be followed 100% of the time. For example, the image above is a no attribution required stock image.
  • Pinterest is never the source of an image.  I repeat – your image credit should never be to Pinterest.  There is a photographer/blogger behind that pin who brought the amazing content to light.
Tips for Bloggers

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.  If you found the image on a blog other than the photographer’s, you should also credit the source of the information and any sources that they have named. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice and give credit where credit is due!

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

5 comments on “Using Images In Blog Posts

  1. Brit writes...

    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.

  2. Emilie writes...

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

  3. Peeps writes...

    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...

      Hi Peeps. You would need to ask permission for each photo, and credit each image you use that is not your copyright. And of course you would need to ask them for permission to edit the image. Hope that helps!

  4. Britney Gardner writes...

    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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