10/25/10

How to Find Free Photos and Images for Your Blog: Searching the Public Domain

Images: photos, clip art, comics – you want them for your blog post. Images make the site more visually appealing, and you’ve learned that photos sometimes help get you higher in Google search results.  However, the creator of that photo or image may want compensation for use of their work. Maybe a little, maybe a lot.


And, you either can't or don’t want to pay for photos that you place on your blog.  Other than creating your own images or photos, is there a free and fast alternative?  Yes.

You just need to learn about “public domain.” On the web, lots of people freely release their copyright in order to expose their talent and their work as widely as possible. Anything -- content, software, images, fonts, videos, etc. -- in the public domain may be used freely by anyone without contacting or gaining the permission of the originator.

What is the Public Domain?

The U.S. Copyright Office defines "public domain" as a work "...no longer under copyright protection or if it failed to meet the requirements for copyright protection." The public domain also includes works where the creator has freely released the work into the public domain. All types of creative work exist in the public domain.

Tips on How to Find Photos and Images in the Public Domain – Free and Fast

1. Basic web searching for the phrase "public domain" along with various words or phrases that you are seeking is an easy enough way to find free images and content on the web.

For example, say you were looking for an image of Abraham Lincoln. Google "public domain image Abraham Lincoln" and you'll find a great photo of President Lincoln that the Library of Congress has been kind enough to upload for public use.

2. Wikipedia also provides an online list of links with oodles of free, public domain images -- a list that is continually growing. It is an excellent resource. (One of my favorites is Wikimedia Commons.)

3. Recently, the nonprofit organization Creative Commons (CC) announced the release of its Public Domain Mark (PDM). Through the use of a CC Public Domain Mark, photographers, graphic artists, and others can help others find their work via the use of a PDM -- see the mark, know that you're free to access the image. Surf the web forPDM” to find photos, images, and other available works that may not be otherwise categorized as available in the public domain.
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