Understanding: Types of Image License Explained

As professional publishers, we always used to use lots of images in our blog posts. Not only for blogging but there are also lots of industries looking to use official pictures to use and upload on their social media sites from stock images. Specially in the case of the legal part, it becomes difficult to find the right and most appropriate image for your project.

Image licences
Legally you are NOT free to use any image downloaded from the internet for your personal or professional use. Here the page will help you all the industries to know about the various license terms to consider while using the stock images, photographs, graphics for their commercial use.

To use any photo for any purpose including free/professional/commercial, and the most important thing is that, for not getting into legal traps, you first need to know the meaning of license and in what circumstances you are allowed to use stock images for your project.

To respect the creator of work, you need to understand the meaning of stock image licenses correctly and legally.

Let's check out the varieties of photo licenses including for both free and commercial use in the industry.
Types of Image License
Types of Image License

Different Types Of Image Licences

Luckily, there are many websites that offer free as well as paid royalty free images. However, some of these Images comes with certain usage restriction based upon its license. So let me first brief you about various types of image licenses.
  1. Public Domain Images
    Public domain images are free from any copyright because of lack of any known author or because the author himself forfeited all his rights. You can use and modify public domain images as you wish even for commercial use.

    However, public domain images are usually of low quality and good images are really hard to find.

  2. Creative Commons License
    Creative commons is a nonprofit organization that provides licenses to all types of creative works including photographs.

    There are various types of creative commons license which are classified depending on its usage rights that the author grants you. Let us briefly go through each one of them.

    Types Of Creative Commons License
    • CC0: CC0 is not exactly a creative Common license. It is same as public domain. However certain authors label their image as CC0 to retain authorship. You are free to use, modify and redistribute CC0 Image as you want, for commercial as well as non-commercial use. No attribution is required for these Images.
    • CC BY: Like CC0, you are free to use, modify, distribute CC-BY images commercially. But you must attribute the author wherever you use the image. However, if you modify the image, you may change its license to whatever you want.
    • CC BY-SA: This license is very similar to CC-BY except that even after modification, the modified image has to carry original license.
    • CC BY-ND: You can use these images commercially, however, you cannot modify the image and have to use the image in it’s original form. Attribution to the author is also necessary.
    • Non-Commercial License: Rest of the creative commons license which includes CC BY-NC, CC BY-NC-SA, and CC BY-NC-ND are all non-commercial license. Some author may allow paid commercial use. However, you must avoid all such images.
  3. Royalty Free Images
    These are paid stock Images clicked by professionals which are free from royalty. This means, once you purchase the image, you may use it as you want.

  4. Rights Managed Images
    These are paid stock images with limited usage rights. You may use the image only for a certain period of time and for a particular project you the image for. You must totally avoid these images as a blogger. This is because you cannot take down the image from your post once the license expires nor does it makes sense to keep buying the license for the same image every time.
Based on the above information, if you are looking for totally free images, you must use images licenced as CC0, CC BY, and CC BY-SA. You may also consider using CC BY-ND images in certain cases. And if you are keen on using high-quality stock images, you must go for royalty free images which I feel, you may not need after reading this article.

So let us find out various sources and websites that provide free images for commercial use.


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Vinayak SP
Authorised by: Vinayak SP

I'm a writer, digital columnist, tech-savvy and an engineer all rolled into one. Yes, that pretty much what everyone likes to call a geeky friend or what you’re probably here seeking, a content writer. You can follow me on the social media or subscribe the email newsletter for the updated guides and tutorials. Regularly publishes news articles about blogging tips, SEO, making money online, Adsense optimization, web hosting, affiliate marketing, & tech reviews.

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