Royalty Free Images

[drop_cap]T[/drop_cap]here are billions of images on the internet, you’ve only got to look at your own social media account to see how many you’ve taken and uploaded to share with the world. With so many available, it’s always inevitable one or two will be used without the correct licence and image rights.

Take this school in Germany, a pupil had searched for an image on Google and used it in a school project. The European Court of Justice ruled that the school was at fault after the photographer had given a German travel website the exclusive use to use the image. Note the word exclusive – i.e, you can’t use it anywhere else, not even in a school project.

The school was sued for around £360. Now, if this pupil’s project was only shown in class, or in assembly, I doubt there would have been a problem. The issue here, lies with the fact it was distributed on the school’s website, which the ECJ ruled was sharing it with “a new public”.

With so much to teach the children of today, perhaps piracy, privacy and copyright law should form part of the IT curriculum, if it is not already done so. Equally, a few adults, businesses and other organisations should be aware of this too.

If you can’t capture your own photographs for use in your own projects or marketing campaigns, there are actually websites out there that offer stock photographs. Some, paid for, including Getty, Shutterstock and the Envato market, but there are also free ones too, two of which I will recommend below.


The Pixabay website has over 1.5 million free stock images available to use. I’ve used them in the past for various projects, and most don’t need attributing to your project. You can also search for video and vectors on this website. As an example, a search for “Oxford” brings up a heap of images, admittedly some not very useful, but there are some decent ones on there.


One I use most often, and is my first “go to” for royalty free images, is Pexels. It works in a similar vein to Pixbay, however this is just photographs only. This is a great site to find stock photos. I’ve used it for a variety of projects I’ve worked on with the Hospital Broadcasting Association and, like Pixbay, most images require no attribution or payment.

What both sites do offer you though is the chance to go to other, paid suppliers, which are mentioned above. So if you really can’t find that perfect image royalty free, and can’t take it yourself, then it would be worth spending a few pounds to get the licence to one of the millions of paid images out there too.

Admittedly, on both sites, you’ll often have to trawl through mountains of images before finding the one that’s right for you, but persistence pays off.

My advice – the days of simply going onto Google, finding an image, and using it in your project without anyone knowing, could soon be disappearing. You’ll often find better images from royalty free/paid websites anyway, and you know you’re getting the best resolution straight from the websites direct, so use them. And if you have to spend a bit of money, surely it’s worth it for your project, than fearing you’ll be sued further down the line.

Oh, and the main image on this blog, was from a royalty free site.

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