Using and Attributing Photos with Creative Commons Licenses

Whether you're sharing tomatoes or sharing free stock images, it's always a good idea to indicate where the item came from. (Photo by Elaine Casap)

Whether you're sharing tomatoes or sharing free stock images, it's always a good idea to indicate where the item came from. (Photo by Elaine Casap)

Let's say you've found the perfect free image for your content. You might be tempted to post it on your site quickly and let it shine, but it's important to be careful. Free photos are often licensed, and may require you to include attribution—that is, a link or reference to its owner. People who make their photos freely available often license them under Creative Commons. These licenses come in several varieties, but here is a typical example of how attribution is required:

In addition to requiring attribution, some sites and licenses have rules about how the photos can be used. For example, a license may restrict the use of a photo if it implies endorsement, or if it is used in a company logo. Some Creative Commons licenses require the user "shares alike," meaning that the photo must be redistributed under the same license (which may rule out certain commercial applications).

Check the “License,” “FAQ,” or a similarly-named section of your favorite free image sites for more information about their photos’ restrictions and attribution requirements. Some sites, such as pixabay.com and unsplash.com, do not require attribution at all. Such photos may come in handy for certain design applications where text would be distracting. But in general, it is good practice to include attribution, even if the photo’s license does not require you to do so.

To avoid cluttering up your caption with a long string of attribution text, LiveStories enables you to include hyperlinks. You can simply include the name of the photographer (or, if unknown, the name of the source website), and then make the name a hyperlink to the photo’s page. For example, these dog photos below should be attributed to their photographer on unsplash. 

This sad dog has a cluttered caption. (Photo by Matthew Weibe, reproduced under a Creative Commons Zero license: https://unsplash.com/photos/hnYMacpvKZY)  

This sad dog has a cluttered caption. (Photo by Matthew Weibe, reproduced under a Creative Commons Zero license: https://unsplash.com/photos/hnYMacpvKZY)

 

This happy dog has an clean caption. (Photo by Olu Eletu)

This happy dog has an clean caption. (Photo by Olu Eletu)

Feel free to leave comments with your own tips on using and attributing Creative Commons material.