I have previously written about some good, free stock image resources. In response to that article, a reader asked me if the images on these sites were royalty free and could be used in courses that he planned to sell. The short answer is that it's a case-by-case basis. Sometimes you can use the images, but only if you credit the original artist. Other times you can use the image, but not if you're going to sell your eLearning courses. And sometimes it's just really complicated and you would be well served to contact the owner of the image and get permission to use it.
An alternative to this would be to use Google to hunt down images that specifically fit how you're going to use them. I've written about this before, but thought it was worth re-hashing since I am asked this quite often.
While most of the images you find by doing a normal Google image source are NOT okay to use, that doesn't mean all of them are off limits. Here's how to find something you can work with:
- From Google, click the Images tab at the top of the screen.
- Click the Advanced Image Search link to the right of the Search Images button.
- From the Usage Rights category, click the drop-down menu and notice that you can filter your results to only show images that are "labeled for reuse" and go beyond that to find images that are labeled for "Commercial use" and "Modification."
This method is a more sure-fire way to be at ease that the images you find are appropriate for your commercial use and modification without stepping on any legal toes. All the same, be sure that for any image you find and plan to use with this method, you check out the source to be sure that the image can be used. If the image is from a Flickr account, for example, there is a section on the bottom right labeled License that will tell you exactly under what conditions you can use the image.
Google put the following warning on their Usage Rights page: