Have you ever run into a brick wall when trying to find the perfect image for your blog or website? With the ever tightening up of copyright restrictions being enforced, it can often be a challenge when scouring the internet to find true public domain images. I have my sources for public domain images and have learned the hard way to never assume anything is public domain at first glance. Always check out the original source of the image before using it, and at the bare minimum, always credit the place where you got the image.
Even crediting a copyrighted image is not a guarantee of protection from infringement, however. There is a growing trend of lawyers representing photographers and artists who use software to scan images on the internet to identify cases of infringement. These are the new internet copyright infringement ambulance chasers. And, contrary to popular belief, the owners of copyrighted material do not have to submit a DMCA warning to have the image removed before filing suit. On the contrary, many are skipping over that step entirely and going straight for the jugular. On the one hand, as someone who has suffered great financial loss as a result of people pirating my books and using my artwork without permission (one company has an image of mine they are using to brand their whole product line) and one book has been downloaded illegally over 1 million times, I can understand skipping over the niceties in an effort to be paid for my work. On the other hand, most people do not have any malintent for using photos and artwork and simply want to make their websites look good. To those people I say please credit the author/artist/photographer, and if the website where you see the image has a copyright notice on it such as mine i.e."Please do not repost this article without permission" pay attention to the terms and abide by them. Most of the time, all you have to do is ask. We just want credit given where credit is due, after all.
Check out these nightmares for what is going on with everyday bloggers being sued for copyright infringement:
Over the years its been a learning curve as to what constitutes "fair use" and what is infringement, though now the laws are much clearer with regards to internet usage. And though most of the images on my website and blog are my own, with the exception of those believed to be in the public domain, I still put up a DMCA page, just in case I missed something. Some people, and for legal reasons I cannot say who, will sue for use of an image that is so low resolution - as small as 120 pixels - if it is copyrighted and used without permission. And if they own the copyright, you have no recourse but to pay a license fee whether you meant well or not.
I've thought long and hard about this. I have continued to educate myself on internet copyright laws and have gone through a long and painful process of pouring over all the sites and blogs I own and changed any images that I did not create myself. But not everyone is an artist or photographer. And in our little niche of folk magic, the public domain imagery is slim pickins.
So, I decided to start placing some of my photographs into the public domain to help out those in the conjure community who want to be on the up and up and maintain some integrity.
I created an account on Publicdomainpictures.net where you can visit my profile and download any images you see there without any worries whatsoever. You can use them for any purpose you want because they are in the public domain. Although I would appreciate a shout out as the photographer, you don't even have to do that legally, you can just download any photo and use it without any mention of who took the photo or where you got it. You should know that it is a matter of professional courtesy to credit even public domain sources, but if you don't, I'm not going to hunt you down and make a stink out of it. These images are my gift to the community, in an effort to help strengthen it and provide a much-needed service that can help to build a community of integrity.
I have just started uploading photos so there aren't many there yet. If there is a photo you need, post a request in the comments below and I'll see what I have. I have thousands of photos just sitting on my hard drive doing nothing. Please note that I am not putting these images up anywhere but on the publicdomainpictures.net website so there is no confusion as to what I have placed in the public domain. If it is not on that website, it is NOT in the public domain and you will have to ask for permission to use it. Which is easy enough - really - just ask.
I hope you find the images potentially useful.
*Photo of brick wall copyright Denise Alvarado, All rights reserved worldwide.
Find free public domain photos here.