Before we see a text we notice the images; the colours to be specific. I am very fond of images and illustrate everything I publish.

But there are some aspects you have to watch when you illustrate your articles or books. I will write a separate post for each of the following subjects. This one is the first.

  1. Image rights
  2. Images size, resolutions and formats
  3. Branding, layout and image organisation

Image Rights and Sources

Never download an image you are not sure if you are allowed to use it. It is illegal and it is unfair. There are various possibilities to receive legal and inexpensive pictures.

Paintings and Photos

Images such as paintings and photos are legally protected for a certain number of years. In Switzerland and other European countries an image is free 75 years after its creator’s death. In your country it might be 100 years.

This means that you can copy and edit images of Mona Lisa or Botticelli’s Venus the way you like. However, if someone visited the Louvre and took a picture of Mona Lisa he or she is technically allowed a copy right on his/her shot. Don’t bother and “google on”. There are hundreds of legal Mona Lisas out there.

NASA has a huge portal of images that can be used. But NASA will remain the owner of these pictures and require to be credited. These are the guidelines for public use.

Mickey Mouse

Do not use Mickey Mouse or any of the citizens of Duckburg (Donald Duck and the gang live there), neither from Pixar nor Dreamworks unless you write a product review on a merchandising article. These images do not belong to a person but to a company and they are their capital and therefore legally protected.

Your Smart Phone

Since I started blogging I am quite a keen photographer. Smart phone images are good enough by far to be used on the web. I will explain more about image size and quality in the next article.


Be careful if you take images from people. Basically, it is everybody’s personal right to decide where and in what context they want their likeness to appear. This rule might not be so strict in all countries but it is worth paying attention to it.

Image Portals

If you want a modern illustration or image the easiest way is to go to image portals like Fotolia, Getty Images or Shutterstock. If you go there the images are not sold for a fix price but for credit points. Larger images are more expensive than small ones. This means you open an account and buy a certain amount of credit points. The more you buy on one lot the cheaper the single point. However, they are normally not valid forever so it is maybe not worth buying too many. But of course you know how many images you need.

Please read the image license, too. All portals have different licenses for different images and use. There is normally a difference if you use images for private purpose or for business. Moreover, you should check if you are allowed to use the same image several times and if you can edit it.

Let’s say you want to create an e-book or a document to be downloaded. In this case you should be allowed to use it as often as you like.

Web images and images for print are also licensed differently (apart from the resolution which I will cover later on).

You will find 5 additional free sources for images and icons in my e-book.

Please be aware that I am not a lawyer and even if I were I would not know the rules of each country.

But there are rules and laws everywhere and they are more than recommendations.

So just check them and reference to the image source if required. Ok?

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Next post on images: How to handle images? On image size, resolutions and formats.



  1. I use my own because it is always safe. I do sometimes use logos when I am involved in a program that has one.

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