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Using free stock photos to tell your brand’s story is not only a great marketing strategy – but it can be fun, too!

When I first began using free stock photos, though – I was overwhelmed by all of the terminology and what it meant. It seemed like it should be simple, but it was just confusing enough to make me gun shy about using these beautiful free photos in my blog and social media posts.

I mean, after all, who wants to get sued over using a photo the wrong way, or for using it for commercial use when you weren’t supposed to, or for not giving credit to the photo the right way? Not me!

So, when Radiance Harris joined Femworking I knew we now had the perfect person to help us get an education on how to use free stock photos the right way so we could feel confident using these awesome images to grow our brands.

And you wanna know the best sources for free stock photos? Head over to this post where we give you the low-down on our favorite sites.

Disclaimer: This material is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  This material also does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Radiance Harris or Radiance IP Law.

Now that you’re clear on how to use stock photos safely, head over to this post to find the best Femworking-approved sites to use in your blog and social media posts.

And if you want some tips for organizing, naming, and getting the most out of your photos, head to this post where we talk with professional photo organizer Megan McCourt of Picture This Photo Solutions.

So, has this post helped you? Do you feel more confident using free stock photo sources now? Let us know in the comments! And if you know someone who would find this blog post handy, please share it with them!




Video transcript:

“We’re with Radiance Harris today, the founder of Radiance IP Law, and this is part of a series we’re currently working on at Femworking about photos. We’re are going to talk about how you can use photos legally for your business, for example in blog posts, social media posts, …

Let’s talk with Radiance first, let’s get to know her. Obviously you can see by her outfit that she is just like us : fabulous. I can personally vouch for how cool she is, and I’m so happy that she’s our guest. Radiance is the founder and managing attorney of Radiance IP Law. She focuses on helping individuals, entrepreneurs and small businesses around the country to protect their intellectual property and business assets. Specifically, her practice encompasses trademark law, copyright law, entertainment law and a wide variety of business and commercial contracts. Radiance is a frequent speaker and published author on intellectual property and related topics, and is recognized as an up and coming leader in the intellectual property field and the legal community, both locally and nationally.

Because Radiance is a lawyer, and she is really smart with all these things, we have to put a little disclaimer here, saying that this blog post and video is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice, nor does it create an attorney client relationship between you and Radiance Harris or Radiance IP Law.

Kelley: We’re going to start today by talking about Creative Commons. This is one of the first things that comes up when you’re thinking about using pictures for your business. Can you tell us what it is? And how it fits with us entrepreneurs being able to use photos in our blog posts and social media?

Radiance: Great question. The Creative Commons is a non profit organization that offers public access, easy to use licenses to creative works, including photos. The artist that owns the copyright and the work, determines conditions and restrictions for using this work. In most cases, the artist maintains ownership of the photo, but gives the public (you, the entrepreneur) limited rights to use and share this photo. So, when using this photo on blog posts or social media, you simply need to abide by the specified terms of the license.

Kelley: Awesome. When I was looking for the different sources available, I started to notice that there were a lot of different terms that people would attach to those, within the Creative Commons license. Things like “All Creative Commons”, “Commercial use allowed”, “Modifications allowed”, “Commercial use and modifications allowed” and “No known copyright restrictions”. They seem kind of straightforward when you consider them individually, but I think that, in the entrepreneur’s mind, they can be really overwhelming, so can you tell us more about those terms?

Radiance: Absolutely. The way Creative Commons works is that the artist chooses the conditions and the license indicating how you may or may not use the photo. There’s a search engine on the Creative Commons website, and all the photos have icons indicating the scope of the license. To get down to each of the different terms that you mentioned; “All Creative Commons” typically just means that the photo has been licensed under the Creative Commons, so they’re governed by these license’s terms. “Commercial use allowed” typically means that the photo may be used in connection with your business or for commercial purposes. “Modifications allowed” typically means that you may modify the photo in the way that you wish. Different sites have different limits as to what modification means. And “No known copyright restrictions” typically means that the photos are in the public domain and can be freely used and exploited as you wish.

Kelley: So, we combed through the internet to find these blog photos sources, and the ones I most recommend for entrepreneurs are the ones where the artist has said : take this photo and do whatever you want with it, so Commercial use allowed and Modifications allowed, because I think entrepreneurs want sources where we don’t have to think about all these terms, we want the most liberal license that we can have so we can do whatever we want with it and have peace of mind, knowing that we’re not hurting another creative. And there are a lot of great photo sources out there, that will be in this series of posts that we’re making, and the best are the ones with the CC0, meaning we can do whatever we want with it. Some creatives, though, do want attribution, so can you tell us how that works? And how do we know when we have to attribute the photo or not?

Radiance: Attribution means that you can use the photo only if you give credit to the original creator or artist. For example, in a blog post, you would have to give credit by giving the title of the image, the name of the artist, the year if applicable, reference to the license, and also linking back to the artist’s original photo. This usually right below the photo or in close proximity to it, so down at the bottom of the page if the photo is at the top is not going to work!

Kelley: This is important to know for entrepreneurs. Even though I prefer to stay away from doing this, sometimes there’s just that one photo, the perfect one for your post! So it’s good to know that if they request attribution, we need to give credit where credit is due, and we need to do it close to the photo. Going back to earlier, let’s talk about CC0, or public domain dedication. I see it on a lot of sites that I’m using, so what does that mean?

Radiance: CC0 means “No rights reserved”. Essentially, the creator has waved any and all rights, title and interests in that photo, which has know become a part of the public domain. Therefore, you can freely use and exploit that photo without restrictions, so no attribution is required in that case.

Kelley: That’s my favorite one! My last question is, as an entrepreneur, am I safe from copyright infringement when I’m using Creative Commons photos?

Radiance: Of course there’s always some risk involved when you use third party content, especially in the case where you cannot know for certain whether the person who applied for the license is the actual owner or was authorized to do so by the owner. There’s also the concern for photos including images of people whether licenses were also made in connexion with the photo. So there’s a few concerns but, that being said, although the risk may be considerably lower for Creative Commons photos, it’s important to keep in mind that Creative Commons licenses do not protect you from being sued. But it does offer a relatively low risk (but not risk free), user friendly platform, to access and use photos for various non commercial and commercial purposes.

Kelley: I think everybody wants to minimize the risks, and that’s why the photos I recommend for entrepreneurs are sources where you don’t need to attribute and you can just use the photo. I think everybody does to the best of their knowledge, and that we all respect creatives, so I like that answer : a little bit of risk, but we can feel safe. So, thank you Radiance, I know that I always felt nervous before using photos, and I feel now that I have an education about it and I can feel confident that I have amazing free visual tools that I can use to grow our brand. Thank you so much for being here! How can people keep up with you if they want to follow you or learn more about law for intellectual property or entrepreneurs, how can they find you?

Radiance: Through my website : You can also like my Facebook business page which is Radiance IpLaw, or find me on Twitter, Instagram and Periscope @radianceharris ! Lastly, you’re welcome to connect with me on Linkedin as well.

Kelley: Great! For those of you watching we also have another blog post coming out talking about the best sources for your stock photos, and I’ve ruthlessly combed through about every stock photo source known to man and I ‘ve picked the top sources for you based on whether or not we vibed with them and whether or not they’re safe for you to use, which is what we’ve just talked about with Radiance. I also have another post coming out that’s about organization for entrepreneurs, so keep an eye out for those, we’ll put links below. Thanks for watching!”