Use of Images: Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge

Posted September 16, 2015 by Elizabeth in blogging/ 8 Comments

I am excited about my first Bloggiesta mini-challenge! There are 15 Interesting and Helpful Challenges this time around; I’ve been checking them out and know which ones I’m going to focus.Bloggiesta-F15We all know how important images are to blog posts. Posts with images get 94% more total views.  Readers need visuals to break up the text and keep them interested, whether it’s an image, block-quote, or simple horizontal line. Social Media Today gives 10 Benefits of Using Images in Blogs for a more detailed break down.  I like to read posts with images that help me better understand what I am reading, and as a teacher for twenty-five years I was constantly told not to just say things, but to give students visuals. Even with this knowledge, many bloggers don’t use images other than those they create themselves because of copyright concerns. For this Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge we’re going to explore how to use and cite images more easily, and hopefully increase readership by having posts that are more visually interesting.  And at the end, there’s a giveaway to Amazon!



"Copyleft" by Zscout370, Sertion, e.a. - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.
Copyleft” by Zscout370, Sertion, e.a. – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Copyleft: (a play on the word copyright) the practice of offering people the right to freely distribute copies and modified versions of a work with the stipulation that the same rights be preserved in derivative works down the line.

Cite: naming where an image or information was found, (hopefully) giving credit to the original author or creator

Fair Use: any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and “transformative” purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work. Such uses are allowed without permission from the copyright owner. Giving credit is NOT considered Fair Use.

Hotlink: using the URL to link directly to an image hosted elsewhere. Usually considered “bad form” as it can slow down the site where an image is hosted. Most creators prefer that users download their work to their own computer prior to use.Giving credit for an image does NOT mean you are legally OK. Click To Tweet


Since it is mostly book bloggers reading this, I’ll first mention book covers. In every book I’ve checked, the copyright information states that the cover or content may not be reproduced or recreated EXCEPT FOR THE PURPOSES OF REVIEW. So if it’s a review, or in some way review-ish, such as Waiting on Wednesday or Book Beginnings, you’re all set. Now on to other images.

Giving credit to the site where an image was found is NOT the legal or appropriate way to cite a source. In the last two days, I have been to three sites that gave credit to the website where an image used could be found. They even all used the copyright symbol. Unfortunately for them and the original artists, none of these sites actually created the images used.

robot-search-resultBy using and searching for the image, I discovered that one of these images is actually in two different stock photo collections, for which users need to pay, and the other was from the blog of an artist showcasing his work. Neither of these received credit or payment. Tineye searches based on URL or image. Even if the image was saved under other names, it finds them. That’s not to say it’s the be-all/end-all, but it’s a good place to start if you are using an image found through a Google search.

If you are using Chrome as your browser, a fast way to determine the origin of a piece of artwork is to right-click the image and select “Search Google for this image”.  Results will give sites where the image is found, so if one is a photo site that’s a good place to start. If you aren’t using Chrome, click on the image, copy the URL and paste it into a Google search box. You may be asked to “search by image”.

MLA and ALA are constantly changing how to give credit for images. As of today, the correct way to cite an image is “Name of Image” by “Name of Artist” Licensed under “Type of License” via “Where it is located”. Cite as much of this information as you are able to gather.

When I save an image, I put its URL in the caption of the Word Press Media Library right away, so that I can go back and get any other info later. When I used blogger I would save the URL in the image name.

I usually put citations in the caption but sometimes put it at the bottom of the post in the Acknowledgements, usually if I have several things to acknowledge. If it is a Public Domain image I just link the image to its URL since technically PD images don’t have to be credited.


photo-originalA Creative Commons (CC) license allows the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work. A CC license is used when an author wants to give people [you] the right to share, use, and build upon a work that they have created. CC provides an author flexibility (for example, they might choose to allow only non-commercial uses of their own work) and protects the people [you] who use or redistribute an author’s work from concerns of copyright infringement as long as they [you] follow the conditions that are specified in the license used by the original author.

The GNU Free Documentation License is a copyleft license for free documentation, designed by the Free Software Foundation for the GNU Project. It is similar to the GNU General Public License, giving readers/users [you] the rights to copy, redistribute, and modify a work and requires all copies and derivatives to be available under the same license.

Public Domain: the state of belonging or being available to the public as a whole, and therefore not subject to copyright. Legally, public domain images do not need to be cited, but if you make it a habit to cite all images you use, it would  be a good idea to at least let people know an image is in the public domain.  Citing public domain also serves to authenticate an image’s provenance.

For more information on licenses, the Co-Schedule Blog has a very helpful article Are You Sure You’re Using Copyright-Free Images On Your Blog?


Of course, we can all do a Google Image search, but that makes it more difficult to find the original artist. Google allows narrowing results by Usage Rights, but I find that when I find a great image and then choose “Labeled for Reuse” I never get what I want. For me, it’s faster to search these three first.When a site claims an image is copyright-free, it doesn't mean it's true. Click To Tweet

Flickr Creative Commons defines what you can do with each specific image. By searching at the usual flickr homepage, users can choose what license level they are looking for once the search results are available. flickr_cc

Pixabay is excellent for artistic photos of everyday things. Images can be downloaded in different sizes and appreciation can be shown to individual artists through donations, instead of just donating to the site overall.

Wikimedia Commons: Part of the Wikipedia family, the media uploaded to the Commons is all usable under Fair Use laws and they give users the exact citation for each image, so there’s no worrying about getting it wrong.

It’s important to know that although all of these image sites and copyright licenses are free, they, and their creators, do not exist in a bubble. All appreciate donations, which you should consider, especially if you use one site more than other.


unsplash_sleepingThere are two sites I use for royalty-free high-resolution images delivered straight to my mailbox. Death to the Stock Photo sends weekly photo packs that usually have a theme or tell a photo story. They also have a paid monthly option that gives users access to their entire archive. UnSplash sends ten images every ten days and allows users access to all of their photos. The images above are what I got when I searched for “sleeping”. I tried “nap” and “napping” and got no results, so the tags aren’t as plentiful as some places.

Note: I put a lot of research into this post, even meeting with two librarians for further information, but this is in no way a definitive guide to copyright laws.


In the next week, create a post containing an image and citation you believe is accurate.  Come back and share the URL in the Rafflecopter. You could even post it in the comments so other participants can see the ways this information has been used. A winner will be drawn on Tuesday, September 29 and will be notified by email. Bloggiesta, Rafflecopter, and Twitter are not sponsors or connected to this giveaway. Complete giveaway information is available in the Ethics/Disclosure Statement.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


8 responses to “Use of Images: Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge

  1. Wow, this was a really informative post. I bookmarked it to refer to again. I try to usually use my own photos. If not, I search for images that are free to use, but I see here it may not be that simple.

    Thanks for the information!

    I cam here through the Lit Lovers link-up.


    Book By Book

  2. I am not good about citing work. I usually take my own photos just so I don’t have to cite. I know I need to fix this. I still have all the links for the brushes I use for GImp and I thought about making a page for them to get credit for creating them. That is so much work though. Not sure when I will get around to it. I did cite a pic in my most recent review though. I hope I did it right.

  3. So question, if I pay for a stock photo that allows me to make changes and use on my blog, do I need to also site it when it states that this is allowed and that noting the artist is preferred but not required? I actually never use pictures from Google searches anymore to make sure I’m not abusing a copyright, but I want to make sure I’m still in line with what I should be doing even when I purchase the right to use an image. 🙂

    • I’ve never done an image like that myself, but I am looking at something right now where it acknowledges all the artists whose work was used in creating the new image, and then that creator. I would look it up on Creative Commons, though. Come back and tell us what you find out.

  4. {I didn’t enter the giveaway because I’m not participating in Bloggiesta this time around, though I coincidentally just revamped my blog.}

    I just wanted to comment that because I know that just citing the original site you found the photo or image on is not legal, and sometimes the site you went to might not be the original creator, I just use my own photos. Maybe not as exciting, but safer and easier… for me. I tip my hat to those who follow the legal restrictions and use images correctly.

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