I see a lot of blogs that are full of picture galleries, showing celebrities for example, and I wonder how they get all these pictures.

Do most blogs just take pictures from Google Images? Or is there another way they get these pictures?

What interests me the most is what the legal implications are.

  • 1
    Keep in mind too that many blog unfortunately violate copyright laws, so maybe a better question would be 'Where to blogs legitimately get their pictures?'
    – Itai
    Sep 4, 2011 at 3:53
  • yes I know, but copyright and fair use sometimes seem so vague, when I try to find out what's legal and what's not, every guide interprets different situations as fair use.
    – fiftyeight
    Sep 5, 2011 at 16:03
  • Indeed, that is why it often takes a judge to sort it out and even that is not absolute. Fair use and copyright laws also differ per country and sometimes per state/province. Plus, your location and your servers may be subject to different laws.
    – Itai
    Sep 5, 2011 at 20:34

3 Answers 3


Depends who you're talking about, but there are several options.
Some sites actually send people to events and get their own photography. There are also services that do licensing for this sort of thing. Off the top of my head, Getty Images is obvious, and the Associated Press has a separate dedicated image service, as does Reuters. There's also WireImage, which at the lower-level plans will be within the budget of even comparatively casual bloggers.

A service called PicApp used to have a setup with wordpress.com to give its users access to their imagery, but they're now defunct.

Questions of legal implication can't really be addressed without specific examples, obviously. Someone misappropriating images owes money/credit to whoever owns rights to them, end of story. Any other case requires considering the terms of use/licensing behind it.

  • I don't know if I should post website names here, but for example I saw a blog that I doubt it has a large budget, with a post about "100 sexiest lingerie models" and for each model they have a gallery of pictures of them in lingerie, is there a chance they can do that without infringing copyright?
    – fiftyeight
    Sep 2, 2011 at 18:03
  • If you can't give examples, that's fine and it's your call, but this is an entirely theoretical discussion. You're asking a legal question. That requires knowing the rules behind the situation, which requires determining what contract is involved; there's no room for abstractions. Or assumptions: you think the site has no budget, but WireImage can be pretty cheap; go look under Register. But yes, I suppose it's conceivable the site found a giant stash of freely-usable images, because the concept does exist. But that's as far as this conversation can go.
    – Su'
    Sep 2, 2011 at 18:26
  • It actually seems that the prices in the register page are for viewing the images, as absurd as that sounds. thanx for the answer though
    – fiftyeight
    Sep 2, 2011 at 18:37
  • One more way is to ask. In the case of the models example you can ask for a sample photo in exchange for a link to their site and you will get a certain percentage of 'yes'.
    – Itai
    Sep 4, 2011 at 3:54

It is good to use creative commons attribution images. You can use images in flickr which are under creative commons attribution and share-alike license. That way you're taking permission from author for the image reuse and also crediting him with the backlink.

There is also pixabay that offers creative commons images or free images. They have a limited database but you're likely to get some quality images from them. As for gettyimages, shutterstock and sxc being stock image sites, using them without permission is not allowed. If you want to stay safe on legal grounds then it is better to use creative commons images.


Many photographers make their photos available under a Creative Commons license: an easy-to-understand set of rules that works within copyright law to make images free to use, while letting the photographer still specify key provisions like:

  • non-commercial use
  • disallowing modification
  • attribution required

Most images on Flickr are Creative Commons licensed. You can use their advanced search to specify that you're looking for CC-licensed photos, and more specifically if you need ones that can be used commercially or modified. You can also find CC-licensed images using Google Images ("only labeled for re-use").

Besides Creative Commons photos, there are a few other sources for free photography. I usually check:

  • Wikimedia Commons - some of these photos require attribution, but many are public domain or otherwise freely available.
  • MorgueFile - a public image archive "for creatives by creatives", Morguefile provides photos completely free, for any purpose except resale.
  • stock.xchng - a free stock photo site, supported by also featuring images from paid stock photo sites (marked separately).

And if you're a "serious" blogger, you can get access to free official publicity photos. Image.net provides a service for this.

  • Wow this image.net looks crazy, do they need to approve you are something? how do you get in?
    – fiftyeight
    Sep 6, 2011 at 23:54

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