Steal Online Images or Source them for Free Legitimately?


I frequently use other people’s digital work across my various web properties – mostly image based content, and all for free with the implicit blessing of the original creators. I do this under Creative Commons Licensing.

CC Licensing is a sub-set of copyright. Is provides flexibility for digital content publishers to state how their works and ideas can be copied, modified or remixed, and within a commercial or non-commercial context. You can view full descriptions of the different Creative Commons licences here. The commonality among the licences is attribution – you must explicitly credit or reference the creator of the work you’re using.

Sourcing images from Flickr, here’s one example of how it works.

I’m always on the look-out for interesting (read non-cheesy photostock) images and illustrations for my course pages. Let’s say I want an edgy shot of the iconic Vinegar Skipping Girl neon sign in Melbourne. I go to Flickr and run a search for ‘skipping girl melbourne’. I then run an advanced search and tick the ‘Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content’ box at the bottom of the page. Searching again filters in only images sitting under a CC licence.

I find an appealing shot of the skipping girl against an emerald sky background:

I download the image and adapt it – I might crop, compress or change its orientation. The CC licence associated with this image specifically states I’m allowed to ‘remix’ or adapt the work in these and other ways. 
The image now sits prominently at the top of my course page: 

But importantly the attribution appears within the same page:

I have both attributed the creator by using their Flickr account name and provided an active link back to the original work.

There are numerous online platforms which allow content creators to publish their digital media works online under Creative Commons licencing. Look out for this symbol or variations:

And of course you can publish any of your own creative works under the CC licencing for others to use or remix. What goes around comes around.


by Bruce McKay Yellow Snow Photography 


Using cheesy stock photography online looks, well, cheesy.

Nothing lets a site down more than $5 stock photography that took all of 5 minutes to source. Images of this sort lack authenticity and undermine credibility. And it indicates laziness.

A homepage, back-page or post should capture interest within the first few seconds of being viewed – well considered images can do that. But you’ll need to invest more than $5 – don’t be a tight-arse when it comes to the imagery and design elements online which are speaking for you in your absence.

Here are a few of the hackneyed classics that haunt my browser…

The Smiling Businessman
Is he high on drugs or what? And those teeth.



The Signpost
Of course, over there silly…





Writing on Glass
Because business is easy.





…and I’m feeling queazy in the tummy now.




Chess Pieces
So super-strategic it hurts.  




The Bullseye
Get it? Do ya?




The Contact Centre Babe
Call me… or at least someone not vaguely like me. 



The Lightbulb
More of the same original thinking. 



The Superhero Kid
Super annoying. Not quirky. 




The Dealmakers
Taking your money – we’re laughing all the way to the bank.




The Thinkers
Here’s our workplace… well, not literally.




The ‘Upward And To The Right’ Graph
Dumbing it down (while magically making it go up).