August 24, 2017

Sources of images for journalists

When creating content for the media, and business (PR, marketing) always need images to illustrate the text. Let’s consider the most accessible sources for legal images for media and PR from the point of view of convenience, cost and pitfalls.

First, let’s say a few words about why it is important to the legality of the images, i.e. using images only in the possession of the corresponding rights. Though, it would seem that this is the absolute basics for journalists / PR, practice shows that even large and reputable companies happen annoying punctures.

Image result for photostocks

In a strong simplification: images are subject to copyright, therefore their use is not free (with some exceptions), and requires permission of the copyright holder (the author or his representative). For violation of the rights of the copyright holder, that is, for using the pictures without his permission, threatened judicial proceedings which usually ends with the payment of compensation to months of headache and damage to reputation.

So, where to take an illustration, the usage rights of which are not hard to obtain?

Own images

If You are the author of the image or images are created within Your company / editorial situation is simplified. In this case, the registration of the transfer of rights is still needed, but this is, as they say, a trick.

Creating images for your project — custom photo shoot, the photographer / illustrator in the state — not a cheap decision: the cost of the photo shoot and the employee’s salary is hard to call minor damage. But this approach also has advantages — elasticity (created such pictures that are needed) and personality (self-image can help you create a individual style of company).

Public domain

Public domain — a set of creative works, intellectual property rights for which has expired or never existed. That is, images that have fallen into the public domain can be used in any way, freely without payment of royalties. How lovely, isn’t it?

But there are some nuances:

You need to make sure that the picture passed into the public domain. The timing and order of transition of works into the public domain vary from country to country, and were different in different periods. In the General case, the work enters the public domain, if year of death of the author 70 years have passed. Ie now in the public domain moving works whose author died before 1 January 1946 or works published anonymously before 1 January 1946.

As a rule, in the public domain are transmitted to the specific image, for example works of art or historical pictures, and these pictures will not be for everyone.

search and selection of such images is difficult, since no single database, and search provide non-commercial services, which are far from perfect from the point of view of the user (a vivid example of a Wikimedia website).

Creative Commons

Creative Commons license is standardized, simplified licenses on the basis of which the author can easily convey their works to be used. Conditions of transfer may be different, but usually it’s free use with certain restrictions. The main limitation is mandatory attribution, which is not very convenient in media projects, and quite unacceptable in marketing — it’s hard to imagine the company website link on the author of the picture used in the design. Creative Commons license may contain other restrictions — a ban on the use of a work for profit, the prohibition on creation of derivative works, etc. that is, the picture on Creative Commons licenses can be used for free, but you need to specify the author and to carefully read the terms of SS for this picture.

Photo Banks are services-aggregator of images, where you can download the desired image and to obtain the rights to use it. Photo Banks are free and paid.

Let’s start with free, as it is a more affordable option — the pictures from these websites can be downloaded entirely for free, even without registering for the service. Availability is the biggest advantage of this solution. But as they say, every Moon has a dark side, and free royalty-free has its disadvantages: the quality of the pictures leaves much to be desired.

To create high-quality images spent a lot of effort and photographers / illustrators working at a decent level in no hurry to send their work for free use. Therefore, as a rule, free stock photography fall casual image of low quality. This does not mean that the chances to find something worthwhile absolutely not, but you have to work hard. Legal complexity.

Free photo banks are not given the documents confirming the rights to use the downloaded images, and certainly no one does in paper form, in accordance with the requirements of the legislation. Therefore, the question of acquisition of rights to use the downloaded images is questionable.


In turn pay the banks are working to offer high-quality and popular content, as well as to make the transfer of all legal requirements with the provision of all necessary documents. Here transfer is made firmly.

Paid agencies are of two types: traditional (e.g. Getty Images) and micro stock. Traditional royalty-free license diverse content (including celebrities, historical photos, works of art) on complex licensing schemes, the cost of the license depends on the method of use and can be several thousand dollars. Micro stock photo banks (or micro stock) illustrative image licensed under a simplified scheme (onetime payment allows you to use the picture is very wide, and usually without the time and territorial limitations). There is a perception that agencies can be found only unnatural stereotyped image of girls, laughing at a salad or businessmen, everyone in the office is showing “OK”. Yes, of course, such images come from stock photography, but along with hackneyed plots photo stocks offer emotional and authentic frames and creative picture.

To summarize: the use of legal images requires a certain time and/or financial costs. Moreover, it also confirms the principle that quickly, cheaply and efficiently at the same time does not happen, you need to choose one or the other: either free but will need to work hard at finding legal home page, or qualitatively with the documents, but for the money. But the options are there for any queries that you wish to go.

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