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Licensed photos for the site: search rules | Crealeon 2022

While the Internet has made it easier to find images, the rules for using illustrations in the Web2.0 era remain complicated. In this article, we explain what you’re risking by posting unlicensed photos, where to find the right illustrations quickly, and when you can legally use free images.

What are the risks of using the photo illegally?

Before the spread of the Internet, the rules for the use of images were quite simple, and it was not difficult to comply with them. The author or customer owned the copyright to the image. No one without official permission could use all or part of the images for any purpose. The system was convenient for copyright holders because copying images was technically difficult. In order to get a suitable quality for printing, one had to ask the copyright holder for a negative or an unblemished copy.

The digital revolution made it possible to copy images in two clicks. In turn, the public availability of the Internet created a feeling that “everything belongs to everyone. Some site owners had the misconception that photos published on the Web automatically belong to all users. In reality, the law still protects copyright holders. In Europe, courts of different instances hear hundreds of copyright and related rights infringement cases every year, and the amount of compensation for copyright infringement sometimes runs into millions of euros.

When images are used without the author’s permission, such risks arise:

  • reputational damage; 
  • the potential fine for copyright infringement;
  • consideration of the case in court;
  • blocking the account in the social network, where unlicensed images were published.

What is a photostock?

Photostock is an online repository of images (photos, graphic files) intended for commercial use. Photostocks are the optimal source for selecting images for:

  • books and periodicals
  • website
  • advertising materials

Any registered user of photostock can buy the rights to the photo and, if he/she wants, can create and upload photos for sale on the site. Photostocks have many advantages, among others:

  • relatively low price per file
  • high quality of provided materials
  • large selection of images
  • speed of finding the necessary image.

Creation of stock images is a separate category of creative business, which is engaged in thousands of specialists around the world. Moreover photographers and illustrators follow the events in the world and publish materials, which reflect the actual news agenda. For example, Getty Images, a large English-language photostock, contains a large number of reportage images: from political summits, music concerts, and official events.

An example of a reportage photo from Getty Images: Kanye West’s scandalous statement at the Taylor Swift award ceremony

Part of foreign photostocks have European localization: interface, including search queries, are translated into lots of languages. To download photos you need to fill in a small registration form: mailbox and password. You will need the data of your bank card required to purchase the images only after ordering.

When searching for images, you should use short generalized definitions. For example, the query “water-air basin measurement laboratory” will not give results. But for the query “ecology, air, technique” sites will provide hundreds of relevant images. Hashtags are used to characterize images on photostocks: short, one- or two-word definitions, the number of which may vary. That’s why you can use several different definitions in a search at the same time.

The only controversial point of photostocks is the difficulty in searching for photos where photomodels portray emotions. Some stock photos have even gained fame as Internet memes. The solution to this difficulty is to choose reportage or high-quality artistic photos.

Portraits of a retired Hungarian electrician published on a photostock became a famous Internet meme Hide The Pain Harold

If you’re looking for content for a corporate web resource or for promotional materials, it’s best to use stock photos. First, you get quality illustrations. Secondly, you exclude possible legal problems.

The choice of photostock depends on the nature of the site. If you are creating a web resource with a focus on Russian realities, start your search with Lori and Shutterstock.


Laurie is a Russian photobank with thousands of images from literally every corner of the country. For example, the result of the search query “Taldom” (city in Moscow region) is 192 photos, and all images are different. A lot of photos are published on the site in section “People”. Since most of the pictures are from Russia, stock images would not look alien on the Russian site.

You can buy stock images at by the piece or in packs of 10 to 3,000 images.


The leading global photobank Shutterstock is also suitable for searching illustrations, but the number and variety of images on this site is significantly lower. For example, the result of the query “Taldom” contains 114 images, many of which are similar. On the other hand, when searching for iconic phenomena and landmarks of life, it is easy to find thousands of first-rate illustrations.

On the website you can buy the pictures either in packages (from 5 pictures) or by monthly subscription (from 10 pictures). In the first case, the minimum cost of the image is $9.16, in the second – $0.22. If you choose a monthly subscription, you can cancel the contract, which allows you to cancel the subscription at any time. This is handy when populating a large new site. The second option is to sign up for a subscription with a one-year contract. This will save on the cost of each image. This option would be convenient, for example, for news media.

Free photos for business websites

Saving on illustrations for the site is possible. There are photobanks that provide a free license for the commercial use of images. It should be noted that the quality of found materials will be far from ideal. And, with few exceptions, on free photostocks are common materials with abstract or well-known subjects. For example, you can find a photo of a model co-working space or Red Square, but a view of St. Petersburg from the air is a difficult task. There are many sites where you can download content for free without registration, but in terms of quality/selection ratio not all are interesting.


Unsplash is a large resource aimed primarily at a young hipster audience. Many of the photos here are color-corrected in different ways. This is rare, because often the stock photos are made in a natural color scheme. The site will be useful for owners of cafes, public spaces and other small businesses.


A very large selection of beautiful photos that you can install on your website.


The downside of Pixabay is that the site has a limited set of hashtags. Photobank can be used as an additional source of content.

Free photos for educational websites

Wikipedia has made the Creative Commons license available on the Internet. There are several varieties of this license, but the most common allows free use of photos for noncommercial purposes with attribution. That is, it is very easy to find free images for educational and educational sites.

Moreover, according to article 1274 of the Civil Code, “for scientific, polemical, critical, informational and educational purposes,” free use of photos with attribution is allowed in the “citation” format. In the case of photos, this effectively means using any material, even copyrighted material.

Commons Wikimedia

Visitors come to your site for a specific purpose, and your goal is to make it as easy as possible for them to find the information they want. Make sure that the navigation of your site is intuitive and user-friendly to drive conversions. You need to remove any obstacles in the user experience and make it so that visitors can intuitively understand how to buy a product.

Adding a search function to your site is a great way to navigate easily. Visitors who use internal site search tend to make much higher conversions than those who don’t. This is because these customers already know the product or service they want and have a high intent to buy. You don’t want these visitors to leave your site because they just couldn’t figure out the buttons, do you? Then consider implementing search.


Flickr is a once-popular social network whose photos are also published under a Creative Commons license. The advantage of the platform is the ability to find original stories. The disadvantage is that only pictures of major cities and popular resorts, such as Sochi, are shared.

Where do I find videos for the site?

Since video content is rapidly growing in popularity, all photostocks have videos available for download. Usually, each video is paid for separately. As an alternative, you can specify This is a video bank with an unlimited annual subscription. The minimum subscription price is $299, but the site has a large selection of aerial recordings.

Illustrations are an important element of every website.

People get used to perceiving information from social networks, and in social networks the main element is photos and video – the text plays an auxiliary role. Because of today’s patterns of content consumption, careful selection of photos is important when developing a site. And since copyright in the age of the Internet is still important, site owners should definitely follow the rules for the use of images.


The more website visitors you convert, the greater the impact of existing traffic on your revenue. These 11 tactics are a great way to get started with conversions. That said, keep in mind that some of them will work better, some will not be as effective. It’s important to define your goals and continually run objective tests to understand what resonates best with your target audience.

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