How to Determine Public Domains Images and Legally Use Them

How to Determine Public Domains Images and Legally Use Them

What was once an online space filled with scrolling and code text, today it is the largest conglomerate of photos in the world. Yes, we are talking about the Internet. And as visual content becomes more and more important, the number of photos available will only grow. Just because you can find a photo on Google, copy or save the photo, doesn’t mean that you can use the photo however you like.

Anyone who uses a photo without a permission can find themselves in a serious trouble. Knowing and understanding the ins and outs of photo licensing and utilization can save web designers, digital marketers, and others from unnecessary troubles.

In this article, we will discuss how to determine public domains images and how to be absolutely sure you are allowed to legally use the photo:

You need to ask yourself – Is the photo your original creation? Did you capture the photo yourself?

  • If the photo is not your original creation you need to determine if it is free for a fair use. You need to know exactly how you will use the photo and determine its purpose – news, comment, critics, teaching, reporting, and etc. If this is your plan you must check if your use of the photo may be considered fair. If your plan is to profit commercially or personally from publishing the photo you need to check if the image is a part of the Public Domain or if the image is protected by Creative Commons. If the photo is in the public domain, the authors release the publication rights. The images that are protected by Creative Commons may be used for different purposes by certain conditions must be considered. If you have purchased the photo, you are free to use for whatever purpose you like and if you didn’t purchase the photo, you shouldn’t use it under no circumstances.
  • If the photo is your original idea, you automatically own the copyright. If the idea for the design was not yours and someone else took the photo, you can’t use it. If you are not really sure if the photo is your original idea, it is better to be extra careful when using it. Make your own research and confirm that you haven’t copied someone else’s idea.

When in doubt, make sure to obtain a permission from the author or create an original photo by yourself and to learn to cite them right!

The Simplest Ways to Tell if a Photo is Copyrighted


It is a final time to clear up the misconceptions and the blurred lines when it comes to copyrighted photos – Which images are fair to use online?

If you want to add some flower to your PowerPoint presentation, website, blog or some other project, you know how easy is to get confused and steal someone else’s photo. Well, those photos can be easily turned into a serious trouble for you, your business, your website, blog or presentation.

You need to know how to protect yourself and how to tell if one photo is protected. We are going to present you a few simple ways to use and tell if a photo is okay for you to use:

  • Be familiar with general signs of a protected photo – Even though there may not always be a quick way to decide if a photo has been copyrighted, there are a few signs that must be taken into consideration. Some of the easiest ways of filtering out copyrighted photos include checking out these following characteristics – watermarks, a note indicating ownership, a copyright symbol, an official copyright listing, it is simply not yours.
  • Research and analyze to decide if a photo is copyrighted – Before you use a certain photo, you need to be absolutely sure that you can use it and in order to do that, you need to double check the photo. You need to research and analyze to decide if a photo is protected. You need to conduct a reverse-search on the photo and visit the Copyright office so you can look up for an official report. Check out these websites to download amazing photography for your projects. 
  • Just ask – Using attribution or a simple disclaimer doesn’t take a photo legal for you to use. If it is not so clear if one photo is officially protected, we recommend you inquire the owner of the property usage and rights. You should obtain permission from the creator if you didn’t find it on a public domain or with Creative Commons licensing.

You know the rule – if you didn’t write it or paint it – it is not yours and you shouldn’t use something without a permission or a proper attribution. So, until you can prove that a certain photo is not protected or copyrighted, don’t use it.

Relate Articles

Leave a Reply