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Are you using blog images legally?

    You see a photo, you right click it and save it to your desktop. It’s pretty and you upload it to the blog…




legally using images

You see a photo, you right click it and save it to your desktop. It’s pretty and you upload it to the blog post you are writing. You add the link to the source of the image and maybe even the photographers name. You publish the post and Bob’s yer Uncle.

Stop! You can’t do that. You cannot take somebody else’s image from the internet and post it to your own blog or website just as and when you please.

I’ve known bloggers that have been contacted by photographers and/or owners of an image. I’ve known bloggers that have been asked for compensation for using the image. This isn’t as ridiculous and uncommon as it sounds. You may think that things like this don’t happen to small blogs, or blogs your size, but that doesn’t stop bloggers being asked to pay out large amounts of cash. It can actually get quite serious and stressful if lawyers have to get involved.

Most bloggers, of course, don’t even realise they’ve done something wrong. Unfortunately, being ignorant to something will not be seen as a valid argument in court.

Knowledge is power and all that, so let’s get knowledgable about legally using images on websites and blogs. 

Facts about legally using images on your blog.

There are some things that people believe to be correct about using images on blogs, let’s go through some of them to make sure we’e all on the same page:

Google Images:

You cannot take pictures from Google images and put them on your blog. Google Images is a way of searching for images that are on the internet, they are listed based on their file name, alt tag, caption around the image etc. Google Images is not database of Images free to use, but images pulled from real websites, like yours or mine. 

Linking back to the source:

Linking back to the source of the image does not make it okay to post an image that does not belong to you, unless clearly stated by the copyright owner. 

Adding a disclaimer to your site:

You may have seen some blogs add a disclaimer at the bottom of the post, blog or somewhere on their website saying something like:

I do not claim to own all images shown on this blog, all images are assumed to be in the public domain. If there is an image on this blog belonging to you, please e-mail me and it will be removed immediately.

This does not waive you of any violation of copyright law you break.  

Embedding images.

If you embed a picture from another site on your blog, rather than upload it to your own server, it doesn’t release your of liability. Just because you haven’t made a copy or uploaded it to your server, doesn’t make it right. This is known as hot-linking. Not only that, but you’re technically stealing bandwidth too. 

If the owner of the site where the image originally was cottons on to what you’ve done, they could even replace the image to something else. Pornography, an text image ‘outing’ you’ or anything else they may wish to do.


Removing the photo on request, not claiming to own the photo, not making any money from the photo, giving the photographers name or not realise you’ve done something wrong will not prevent you from being sued and having to pay out a hefty sum. 

How do I make sure I’m not using images illegally? 

The best way of insuring you’re using images legally is to use your own images only.

If you do not want to use your own photo, then you need to assume that every photo is under copyright unless it’s clearly stated it’s free to use, or you are given written permission to use it. Most people and online stores will agree for an image to be used with a link, as it is publicity.

There may be some reasons why a person may not allow you to use an image. For example, if a photographer makes a living from selling photographs, they may not want you to use their images without paying.

You can always use images that are in the public domain, there are millions of them and they’re not all tiny and low quality. There are plenty of public domain and creative commons sites you can use. A good place to start is Flickr Creative Commons page, be sure to understand the creative commons licences before you do though.  


There are websites and software out there that allow you to ‘reverse image search’ images, by uploading a file it will search the internet for similar pictures. Although it is rare that the owner will find the image and ask for compensation in cash, it’s not unheard of. Don’t make yourself vulnerable by taking an image that doesn’t belong to you, when there are many other alternate ways of getting great images to your blog.

Please Like this, ReTweet it and share it with others so we can prevent others from finding themselves in a sticky situation!



  1. Wow!! This was so informative and scary actually – Learned a lot and definitely need to keep this in mind in the future!!!

    Thank you, once again your post is filled with really helpful tips and advice!!

  2. THANK YOU. I’m so sick of seeing bloggers use images illegally and think it’s OK because they linked back (to the person they stole it from!) or have a disclaimer essentially saying, “I’ve no idea who these images belong to, so don’t blame me if I’ve stolen from you!” As you point out, these things do not make it OK to steal other people’s work, and you can still find yourself in a lot of trouble over it!

  3. This post scares me.I use many pictures to illustrate my post of films I post on sundays and sometimes I have taken some pictures from other blogs. Interesting, scary question today, Corinne. Kissses:)

    1. Think ofbit this way: your car is in front of your house, someone takes it, uses it for a week, and when you protest they say ‘but it was there, how could I have known it was someone’s private property?’ It’s the same thing when you use someone else’s work, even if you’re not making money out of it. They put a lot of time and effort into their work, they get to decide if, when and how it is used, or by who. Imagine you made a really nice cake for your mother, spent hours decorating it. And then your neighbor sees it and says ‘hey, this is just what I need, I’ll just take it off your hands, thanks!’ Lovely, huh?

  4. A great post I think people are either very naive or know they are doing something wrong and just don’t care. You wouldn’t dream of stealing text from a book, a scene from a film this is a copyright breach. So many blogs have images taken from other sites and bloggers. Great informative post and hopefully you will enlighten a few people Lucy x

  5. You just saved my entre blogging LIFE! I’m going to go and change all of my pics and replace them with my own. Ouch…so thankful for this post! Xo!

  6. I almost always buy $1 images from That’s one less latte a week. If I blog 5 X per week X 52 weeks it comes out to $260 a year. And don’t forget you can reuse some of those bought images, too. No need to just “grab” images.

    1. It’s not ‘free publicity’ when you steal someone else’s work. You can always contact them and ask if you can use their pictures (and link back to the original source). Would you go grab a dress from a shop, just to give the shop ‘free publicity’, without asking if they’d be ok with that?

  7. this is an incredible write-up & i’m so so glad i’ve found it!! what a good thing that i’ve never ever dreamed of using any kind of stock photography. good thing for me to learn that people who stick disclaimers aren’t waived of liability, too. just in case i see any of my photos flying around (god forbid!). thanks for writing this, Corrine! keep up the amazing work btw.

  8. Great article! I just ran into this issue. My blog tests, reviews, and rates Pinterest Pins. The only image that I use that isn’t my own is the original pin. I notify the original source/blogger that they are going to be Pintested. All credit goes back to the original source with several mentions, hyperlinks, and such. I understand and respect intellectual property.
    This week I had a blogger thank me for the post (she got 5 out of 5 pins), but requested that I take down the picture. I was rather stunned since I was careful to give her all of the credit. She kindly explained that while she appreciated the added exposure, she is a professional photographer and wished to keep her work on her own sites. When put that way, I was quick to take down the picture with extra links to the source.
    Even with the best of intentions, I made a guffaw. Your post put this so well. I’ll be sharing it on Pinterest. Thank you!

  9. Great post Corinne!

    It’s worth noting too that there are free stock images available for use on your sites such as

    There really is no excuse for stealing other people’s work. Not only is your integrity at stake but also your bank balance as you’ve said x

  10. Great article and very useful. I read recently though that if someone has posted images on a social media site then they lose their rights and people are free to pin, tweet etc. Is this incorrect? What about pinterest or facebook? Many thanks

  11. Wow. Okay. This is definitely something I need to think about. I’ve just been google imaging and embedding, and blogger has a URL image select section too… Okay. I guess from now on I’ll be using my own images?

    The Life of Little Me

    1. The blogger image from URL is for if you wish to host your blog pictures somewhere else, like Photobucket and then use on your blog, rather than upload straight to blogger which has a storage limit 🙂

  12. This is a great post. I only use my own images but this kind of stuff is also really handy to know for any future blogging. There are so many things people don’t realise when blogging.

  13. This is so useful! I’d like to think I’m fairly aware of copyright but I know that a lot of bloggers would think that by just giving credit to the image owner, they’re home and dry! I personally think that creating your own images is part of the fun when blogging 🙂

  14. I can’t believe anyone would be so naive as to think they could just copy any image as they please! And these disclaimers that they fo not own the images they use, that’s even worse. It’s sheer lazyness, they can’t be bothered to contact the copyright owner… I mark all my images with a copyright sign and the name of my blog, just to make sure no one can say they didn’t know it was copyrighted material.

  15. Awesome post. I like to use all my own images as I’ve known first hand how stressful it can be when someone steals your own photos. I draw and people used to steal th photos I would take and convince people they drew them. So with my blog I’d rather spend 2 hours trying to get the best photo for my post then pinch someone elses 🙂

  16. OMG. This is a post worth sharing. Thank you for this, now I got to watch what I post. I usually will use something from Pinterest, but state clearly it’s not mine & then I’d link them! I didn’t know that was wrong

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