Multimedia Tips (graphics, photos and videos)

This is not a Government of Canada website

The purpose of this website is to provide a working example of the WET-BOEW-Moodle theme created by TNG Consulting Inc. together with the Government of Canada. Demo courses are only available in English however multi-language courses are supported.

Free stock photo websites

Need some photos for your website? Here are a few places where you can take a look without breaking the bank:

Shutterstock is commercial however they do offer a free high quality professional photo and vector image each week to anyone who signs up for a free account. I've been collecting them on and off for years. Makes for a nice library of photos.

iStock has a similar deal for free photos and illustrations but also offer a free video clip as well.

IMPORTANT TIP: Wherever you get the photo from, always take note of:

  • The name of the photo file. If you make changes to the file, always keep a copy of the original.
  • The date you acquired the photo. Licenses can change over time and the applicable license is dependant on when you got the image.
  • Where you got the photo (URL or print screen which includes the URL and site name is probably best).
  • The copyright owner's name and a copy of the copyright license.
  • A record including the payment receipt if you purchased a license for it.

Take the time to read the copyright license. While some photos may be free, some require attribution and some don't let you use them in a commercial application or don't include the right to alter it. For example, cropping, adjusting colours/contrast/brightness or even just adding text to it is considered making a change.

While the photo may be free on a website, this doesn't prevent someone from coming back to you years later claiming that you didn't have permission to use the image. I know of someone who ended up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, licensing fees and damages because they used photos on their website that they didn't have a legal right to use.

If you are doing work for someone and want to use a copyrighted photo in the project, either download a new copy of the photo or make sure that the license attached to the photo is transferable. For example, you could not download a photo of the week from Shutterstock today and use it in a clients project next month. When you downloaded the photo, the license is for you to use the photo, not future clients. You would not want to get employers or clients into trouble.

Finally, if you want to use your own photos in a project for an employer or client, you are most welcome to do so as you have that legal right. Just make sure that you provide them with some kind of note indicating either a standard license or the terms under which you are letting them use the photo. If people are included in the photo, it is always a good idea to have them sign a consent release form, especially if the photo was taken on private property or includes children. If children are involved, their parents/guardians will need to sign.

Examples of common licenses for photos include:

  • Public Domain (also known as Creative Commons Zero) - means that anyone can use, copy, make changes the photo for any purpose without attribution or permission from the author.
  • Creative Commons has several types of licenses available if you want to make the photo available for free. These are similar to public domain licenses but may require attribution or have some restrictions on how and where they are used. The author retains a copyright to the image.
  • Copyright with all rights reserved where you would be specific about how they can use the photo. For example, can they sell the photo? Claim it as their own? Where can they use it and for how long? Do they need to pay you a one time fee now or renew a license in the future? Is there a time limit for this license? Can they make changes to it? It's your photo so you make up the terms and conditions.

You may also want to read your employment agreement to see if there are any pre-existing terms and conditions that would affect your legal rights to photos you may have taken while employed, whether it was part of your job or not.

Haven't found the the right picture yet? Check out LoremPixels, Dummy Images or Dummy Image Generator where you will find convenient placeholders for your future photo.

PLEASE NOTE: I am not a lawyer/barrister. I recommend that you get legal advice unless you are 100% sure of what you are doing when it comes to copyright issues.

Last modified: Wednesday, 08 January 2020, 7:58 PM
Date modified: