HTML Aside: Finding and Using Internet Images

There are TWO primary concerns when searching for images on the Internet to use on a webpage:

  1. WHERE will I find good images?
  2. What about image COPYRIGHT?

This article covers the basics of both topics – but let’s begin with COPYRIGHT.


There are TWO basic forms of copyright to be aware of:

  1. Implicit / inherent (unspecified) copyright
  2. Explicit (specified) copyright

Implicit (default) copyright

Generally speaking, EVERY image you find online was shot or created by someone besides yourself – which means it automatically, inherently possesses a copyright by the original creator. You are not (legally) permitted to simply “search and use” any image you find on Google.

Explicit copyright

Many content creators explicitly assign different forms of copyright to their creative works.

SIX copyright terms you may have heard:

  1. “All rights reserved” (exclusive rights)
    • Copyright DEFAULTnothing may be done with a copyrighted work without permission
  2. Royalty free
    • Buy the license once, use the image multiple times without paying additional royalties for each use
  3. Stock photos
    • Images licensed for specific uses (or a specific number of uses) – often lower priced
  4. Fair use
    • Copying a copyrighted image in a “limited and transformative” way
    • Fair uses in the US: commentary, search engines, criticism, parody, news, research, scholarship
    • This is often the most misunderstood and misused defense when using a copyrighted work – and people have been sued for it
    • Better to avoid the trouble altogether, or have a good Fair Use Checklist (and lawyer)
  5. Creative Commons
    • Copyright holders specify which rights they reserve and which they waive – often providing images for free use within limits (primarily attribution)
    • CC0 Images (Creative Commons 0 license) are dedicated to “public domain” use
  6. Public Domain
    • Images (and books, music, or other copyrighted material) that may have once been copyrighted, but are now considered “owned by the public” due to the expiration or forfeiture of exclusive rights
    • The Unlicense is also a “Public Domain Dedication” license


  1. Do you want FREE images?
    1. Use images in the public domain or with CC0 or Unlicense licenses
    2. Use images with Creative Commons licenses and credit the author (or whatever else the specific type of CC license requires)
    3. Take / create your own images
  2. Do you have $$$ and want to use a single image all over the place?
    1. Purchase a royalty free image
  3. Do you have $$$ and just need an image for a specific use?
    1. Purchase a stock photo

Where to Find Good Images

The following is a brief list of some of my personal favorite Image finding websites. The complete list of Image finding websites will live on at

  1. CC0 Sites (FREE use – but check anyway)
  2. Creative Commons (check the license, terms, usage allowance)
    1. Wikimedia Commons
    2. Google Image Search (Tools = Reuse allowed)
    3. (Advanced Search = All Creative Commons)
    4. Stock Xhange
  3. Stock Photo Sites (buy a license, understand terms)
    2. Getty Images

HOW to Select Excellent Images

Now that you know WHERE to look, it’s equally important to know how to choose high quality images. The following is a (mental) checklist I use:

  • I: Information – Does this image add information and/or enhance the content?
  • M: Mood – Does this image convey the right mood? Does it fix the context?
  • A: Authentic – Does it look fake, posed, or unnatural? Avoid it. Find something authentic.
  • G: Great shot – Is it visually striking, crisp, well-lit, well-cropped, and high quality?
  • E: Engaging – Does this image engage your audience? Does it grab attention?
  • S: Smart Style – Does this image fit with your website/brand’s style and color scheme?

For more information on selecting Excellent Images, check the following two links:

  1. 4 Tips for Choosing the Right Stock Photography
  2. Choosing Images for Your Website – The Minimalist Guide

HTML Learning Course

  1. Introduction to HTML
    1. Aside: Creating HTML Files
  2. Webpage Structure
  3. Text Elements
    1. Aside: Character Codes
  4. Lists
  5. Links
  6. Images
    1. Aside: Finding and Using Internet Images
  7. Tables
  8. Forms
  9. Additional HTML tags

Author: Aaron

Aaron Snowberger is an experienced web developer, graphic designer, and educator in ESL and computer technology. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science, Master's degree in Media Design, and professional certifications for React (JavaScript) development, and as a Google Certified Educator and Trainer. Aaron is passionate about helping new learners discover the joys of technology, and has presented across the country at multiple local, national, and international conferences in both the ESL and web development fields. His most recent talk was given at the 2019 JSConf (JavaScript Conference) in Seoul on September 3, 2019. (

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