Am I a Blogging Felon?

Maybe I’m opening up a can of worms here. So be it.

One of the things I enjoy about blogging is the immediate gratification. Think, write, post. But, of course, many of the posts are enhanced by some form of graphic or picture that relates to the theme. And therein lies the problem.

It is very easy to use Google Image Search (or similar engine) to find an appropriate photo or graphic. Or, to grab a company logo that is the subject of a post. But then what? Should there be some form of attribution for every image used? Are some images (news items, logos, Hubble images of galaxies, crowd shots, etc.) so generic as to be “understood” as usable without attribution?

Would trying to contact every possible source of an image found somewhere on another site so slow down the process of blogging as to make it overly cumbersome? What constitutes “fair use” if some image is not being re-sold?

I have found a few free/cheap image libraries – is anyone using these services with good success? Is anyone drawing from services like Flickr, contacting photographers and using images with attribution?

Most images are not necessarily the proper size – is it a bad practice to grab and re-size or crop, then store them elsewhere (so as not to use up someone else’s bandwidth by hotlinking)?

Sometimes it seems like the path of least resistance is a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, but I’m wondering it that’s not just another way of playing fast and loose with copyright issues.

What do you think? How have you wrestled with and resolved these types of issues? I’d really value your input, and think that the discussion is an important one for us to have as bloggers.

(image above found at, and adapted)


About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

8 Responses to Am I a Blogging Felon?

  1. Steve, I’d like some better answers to all these questions, too. I hope this thread results in some good answers.

    I’ve started to use flickr more and more. There are some absolutely great photos there, for just about anything I need. And I can go into the advanced search and find only “Creative Commons”-licensed photos, so I don’t have to feel bad about breaking copyright. Depending on what you’re looking for, you can even specify, “Find content to use commercially,” or “Find content to modify, adapt, or build upon.” It’s easy enough to give credit by linking back to the flickr photographer at the bottom of my post.

  2. I know Gavin uses Flickr and attributes all his images. I attribute most of the ones that have attribution. Many of the images I use are photos taken by my family or of books I am helping get the word out on.

    There are also sites with images that are copyright free for non-commercial use. I have used many of those photos also for work. When using images of crops, for example, you can log onto government sites that offer free images for use.

    I like the new blog design and kudos on the nice photo of you here.

  3. Mike Sansone says:

    I try to use Flickr as much as possible because of the Creative Commons licensing and the community aspect. If I do find a more appropriate image elsewhere – I link to the page I found it on and give attribution in the post. No complaints thus far, but I’m not a mega-media site either. If I was – I’d probably use Flickr (with a permissible CC license) or stock.

  4. mindblob says:

    Hi Steve,

    I understand your concern. It is quite “professional” to think that way and I used to be hesitating when I began blogging, just to “respect” rights and authors.

    So far, I relay the information given by Valeria, David and Mike about Flickr. The main point being probably the “sense of community”. Linking to the author’s image source page (flickr, for example) seems to be the common practice, at least between bloggers with a non-commercial activity.

    Now, you could as well extend this to any kind of pictures found on Google image (besides the “heavy and obviously copyrighted” ones, naturally). Once again, as long as it serves the illustration of ideas, it shouldn’t be any problem. Of course the debate is opposite if you think about building business or corporate image or publish anything found on the net.

    On my blog I either link to the source or if it makes no sense to link it, I’m careful about the fact it is used only as illustration (metaphor) of an idea and that the image was available on the wild with no copyright mention. Also, I like to do my own layouts based on existing images within the same limits. I suppose “respect” is a good motto.

    Not sure this helps, but I hope so. Your site looks very nice though.

    Kind Regards.


  5. Mario Vellandi says: is a great additional resource.

    I agree with all the attribution comments above.

    If using a photo from someone else, you should host it yourself naturally. Regarding generic photos, it’s all up to what your intuition tells you.

  6. I go along with Mike Sansone. I am new to blogging. Mike is teaching me about it. He has told me to use photos in my posts and recommended I just copied several photos from the site to My Pictures for future use. One thing Mike said was to ALWAYS give attribution to them. If there are other sites with good pictures, I wll use them and give them credit in my blog.


  7. impactiviti says:


    This discussion has been very helpful. Let me summarize what I’ve done light of your suggestions, and pull together some resources that might be of help.

    1. I’m now using Flickr heavily for finding appropriate images. I’ve used it extensively to house my own images, but once I looked into the Creative Commons license sort and realized how simple it would be to use and attribute images, that made it a no-brainer.

    2. At the bottom of each post now, where an image is used (from Flickr or elsewhere), I include an attribution with a link to the original image.

    3. I re-size, crop, and store the images in a repository for blog use (was doing that anyway before).

    If you haven’t tried the site before, I highly recommend for uploading and manipulating images. It has a direct image upload to Flickr once you’ve got your image in its final form.

    Here are some sites for finding free or low-cost photos that have been recommended, or that I’ve found by searching (haven’t used all of them yet, but any experiences you have with these or other sites, feel free to share!):

    And, a Wikipedia list of resources:

  8. 7 Bates says:

    As a photographer, and stock image developer – as well as a blogger, I appreciate that this discussion is brought up.

    Even with only 7 comments, this mini-thread has summarized a very hot topic among creative collaboration circles.

    I’m still a big believer in back linking some image sources where the content of my image is supportive or illustrative of my post, and then I send a stock email to the creator (if possible) where I laud them with praise for the work, and add an “oh by the way it became the centerpiece of this article, blah blah blah.”

    I would suggest you add one more source to your list though:

    – related to Stock Expert, which I do use frequesntly (who can beat $.99 cents for an image I really need?) it’s where I post a lot of my stock work for free. I LOVE getting emails from publishers all over the world displaying my images. It’s a guilty pleasure that pays me more in pride, than I ever get from the license fee.


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