With the issue of copyright to keep in mind to protect your business from lawsuits, you might wonder, “Can I use Unsplash images on my website?” The answer is a big, “Yes!” There are just some factors to consider when using Unsplash for your website to keep you worry-free. I’m here to discuss them with you.
What are the factors I must consider in using an Unsplash image on my website?
Photos and images not only make a website look pleasant and engaging, but they also help a business increase visibility online through SEO. However, the cost of hiring a professional photographer to curate images for your business, products, and services may be a big constraint for your website’s needs.
The good thing is there are online services now that provide the free use of images and photos for commercial purposes. One of these is Unsplash, where I get the images I use in this blog. I personally like Unsplash because the photos are of high quality and professionally done. It’s really suitable for use for business websites.
Buffer.com even highly recommends Unsplash for free, high-quality images that businesses can use for their social media, blog, and website postings. Unsplash is at the top of Buffer.com’s listing of more than 20 online resources for free images. While Burst, Pexels, Pixabay, and Free Images are the next on their list.
To better understand what makes Unsplash a favorite across a spectrum of online users, there are three factors you must consider in using Unsplash images on your website. These are the basics of image licensing—that is the general types and that of Unsplash’s in particular; your intentions behind using the images; and your desired output for the image.
What are the types of licensing involved for images?
Free images can either be classified as a public domain, creative commons, or royalty-free.
a) Creative Commons – Creative Commons images are provided for free as long as these are used for the sharing of knowledge and creativity but adhere to certain legal tools. Creative Commons licenses may be given fully or for a certain purpose but do not allow any changes to be done on the image.
b) Public Domain – On the other hand, public domain images are those with inapplicable, forfeited, or expired copyrights. Images uploaded on the World Wide Web do not necessarily mean that the public can use it any time, anywhere, and whatever means they please.
On the contrary, copyright laws still govern images (photos) posted online and their makers—photographers–can claim full rights to them at any time. Thus, it is important to know if an image is a public domain image before using it.
c) Royalty-free – Images are considered royalty-free because they are copyrighted material whose license was already paid once by a particular user. One-time payment of the license grants the user of a royalty-free image the right to repeatedly use the material wherever it may be necessary to do so. Royalty-free images mean that the succeeding use of the image is already for free.
Unlike the aforementioned types of licenses, Unsplash’s license is unique in that it has its own wherein users are given much freedom in its use. There are just some exemptions in its free use.
What are the scope and limitations of using an Unsplash image on my website?
According to Unsplash on their Terms of Service as of March 18, 2019, individuals using their photos may do so as part of a product or service placed in a media–websites, Instagram, and other social media. The photos or images may be used for commercial, personal, and editorial use without the need to attribute it to them and the photographer.
Unsplash’s license allows that images taken from their website be edited according to the creative needs of a business or individual. Editing an image is actually a requirement to exempt a person or business from copyright infringement. Good thing there are now resources on the internet that you can maximize to edit images online that will make the job easier for you.
The Unsplash license indicates two prohibitions in the free use of their images. One, they do not allow the printing of their images on a business’ products and its related materials as it is. Two, they also prohibit the selling of images downloaded from their website or the compilations of such images to establish a competing website.
The selling of a photograph from their website is allowed only when the original photo has been merged with another photo or set of photos to come out with creative material.
This means that the image has been totally edited to become something new and unrecognizable–to some extent—from the original image. Thus, when an image is merely resized, slightly modified in contrast and color, or has been a bit altered, then it is prohibited from being sold.
The company suggests asking the following guide questions before using any of their images for marketing and selling purposes:
1. Would the photographer of the original photo easily identify their work in your image?
2. Has the Unsplash photo been transformed enough that you can claim it solely as your own?
Is there something else I need to remember when using Unsplash images for my website?
Equinox warns businesses to avoid using photos or images with identifiable content from Unsplash. By identifiable content, this means the people or location in the photograph can be named or identified.
These have to be avoided for it will require you to acquire a model release and consent for the use of the photo or image. People’s photos would also require you to ensure that the image’s usage would not be defamatory or malign in any way.
Landmarks and private places that could easily be identified would require you, on the other hand, to acquire the consent of the landowner. The same goes for any branded products, logos, and trademarks visible in the photo that may portray they are being advertised or promoted by your business.
Also, Quora gives a mild warning when using Unsplash images on your website. There might be the possibility that someone pretended to own an image and uploaded it on Unsplash. This would entail that whoever used the said image would be responsible for the copyright infringement claims of the true owner.
I have been a long-time user of Unsplash and have not encountered something of that sort. So, it is really a very, very rare possibility of it happening.
The same thing can be said when it comes to Unsplash images having viruses or malware. It is then generally safe to use an Unsplash image on your website.
In summary, you can use Unsplash images on your website, products, and projects at any time and even repeatedly. Just make sure you comply with their Terms of Service and are cautious with the particular images you use, especially when it has identifiable contents to avoid any problem for your business.
What is the best way of maximizing Unsplash images for my website?
Kristine Neil highlights the importance of having a free account in Unsplash to maximize its features. Doing so will allow you to create a collection of images online that you can easily organize corresponding to your intent of using it on your website.
This would make it easier for you to identify which is most suitable for a particular project, product, or activity you may need in your business. She highly suggests selecting the photos for your collection based on your business’ branding scheme–color tones, overall feel, and identity. This will show consistency and convey that the images were customized by a professional photographer for your business.
How To Add Unsplash Images To WordPress?
If your website is hosted or created in WordPress, you can add an Unsplash image to it by opening your Dashboard. Click the Media option in the left menu and choose Library.
This will open the Media Library page. Click Add New for the Drop Files To Upload option to appear a little below it. Drag and drop the Unsplash image into the pop-up window for it to be uploaded to your WordPress’ Media Library.