Images and Copyright – How and What is Safe to Publish on Your Blog?

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Creative Commons License is a group of copyright licenses that allow the use of and alteration of documents in other works, including websites and blogs. These licenses can be used in different combinations, making it possible to different uses for a variety of works.

These licenses were released by Creative Commons ( in 1992 and make it easier for you to find free images that you can use on your website or blog.


Types of Licenses

When searching for images, you will see combinations of the following four core licenses. They are also often abbreviated and you can see the abbreviation for each license in brackets below.

  • Attribution (by): You can use image, as long as attribution for the work is provided. 
  • Non-commercial (nc): You can use the image for non-commercial purposes only. 
  • No Derivative Works (nd): You cannot create derivative works only. You cannot edit the work. 
  • Share-Alike (sa): You can make derivative works and modify the work, only if you distribute the work under the same license as the original work.


Possible License Combinations

There are 6 possible combinations of these licenses:

  1.  Attribution (by): It can be used for commercial purposes, derivative works can be created, but only if proper attribution is provided.
  2.  Attribution AND Non-Commercial (by + nc):  It cannot be used for commercial purposes, but derivative works can be created and proper attribution must be provided.
  3. Attribution AND No Derivatives (by + nd): It can be used for commercial purposes, but derivative works cannot be created and proper attribution must be provided.
  4.  Attribution AND Share Alike (by + sa): It can be used for commercial purposes, derivative works can be created, but only if the derivative work is released under the same license. Attribution must be provided.
  5.  Attribution AND Non-Commercial AND No Derivatives (by + nc + nd): It cannot be used for commercial purposes and no derivatives can be created. Attribution must be provided.
  6.  Attribution AND Non-Commercial AND Share-Alike (by + nc + sa): It cannot be used for commercial purposes and derivatives can be created, as long the derivative work is released under the same license. Attribution must be provided.

Understanding these licenses will make it easier for you to find the images that suit your needs.


Graphical Representation of Licenses

While some sites may use different images to indicate certain licenses, you will likely see the images used by the Creative Commons.

You will often see a CC, which stands for Creative Commons and indicates a Creative Commons license:


Then the following images, show the 4 possible licenses that can be used in the variety of combinations mentioned earlier.


1-     Attribution (by)

2-     Non-Commercial (nc)

3-     Share-Alike (sa)

4-     No Derivatives (nd)


How to Submit Your Documents to Scribd


Scribd is an online document sharing platform that combines social networking elements with online text file sharing.

When your documents are on Scribd, it’s automatically search engine optimized and submitted to multiple platforms to help you get maximum exposure.

Here’s how to submit your documents to Scribd.

Step 1: Select Upload a Document


When you land on Scribd’s front page, you’ll be presented with the “Upload a Document” button in the middle of the front page. Click that button to get started.




Step 2: Choose Your File


Select a document to upload. Scribd makes this process very intuitive by giving you several different uploading options.

You can upload via files, connect it to Google Docs, copy and paste the text or download Scribd’s desktop uploader to upload files faster from your desktop.

Choose one of these options and select the file you want to upload.


Step 3: Confirm TOS & Copyright Policy


A popup box will appear to verify that you own the documents you’re uploading:


Click OK. The upload process will then begin:


Step 4: Create Your Account


Enter your email address to create your account. The password will be sent to your email.



Step 5: Verify Your Upload


At this point, your upload should be finished! If everything went well, you’ll be taken back to your home screen which now has the document you just uploaded:



Click on the document to make sure everything is in order. Congratulations! You’ve just uploaded your first Scribd document.

How to Use Public Domain Content for Digital Books

online_searchOne of the easiest ways to get high quality content to turn into digital books for Kindle, iBooks, Nook or any other digital ebook store is to repurpose content that is free of copyright, or public domain works. By using content in the public domain, you can just use content that was created by someone else for your digital ebook. This guide will who you how to use public domain content for digital books.

Locating Copyright Free Works


The first thing you need to do is find the public domain works. While these suggestions are intended to be compliant with U.S. copyright law, you should always do your due diligence to ensure content is in the public domain.

1-copyright-gov-guideOlder Works

Generally speaking, any work that was published before 1923 is copyright free. Because of a law enacted in 1998, works created in 1923 will become public domain in 2019. In 2020, works created in 1924 will have their copyright expire and so forth.

There are certain circumstances where older works, published after 1923 might also be in the public domain.

For more information, review the U.S. Copyright Office guide here:


U.S. Government Works

One place to look is government websites. Any document published by the US government is free of copyright, but be aware that if documents were created under government contract with a 3rd party, they are protected by copyright.

You should also be aware that many logos and emblems, while not protected by copyright, are protected by other laws.

Still, if you do your homework right, you’ll find many government websites will have some top notch content up for grabs completely free.  From detailed reports on improving health to high resolution photos of the galaxy, from declassified cold war documents to environmental health reports, all of it is public domain. You just have to dig.

Look through the websites of various government institutions that are related to your field. You can also try searching with “” to do a search only through government websites.


Public Domain Archives

Another place you can look for public domain content are public domain archives. One of the most popular ones is Just make sure you do your own research to check that the content really is copyright free before you use it.


Second Hand Bookstores

One last place to look for public domain works is to try and locate truly unique and rare works that are no longer protected by copyright. These are public domain books that haven’t been digitized and aren’t being used by anyone else right now. If you can locate such a physical book and have it transcribed, you’ll literally be the only person on the internet with that book.

You can find these old physical books at local used and arcane bookstores, as well as some internet stores that specialize in older books.


Make Sure You’re Compliant with the Ebook Store Where You Plan to Publish


Before publishing your works on the Kindle, the iBookstore and the Nook store, make sure your work is compliant with their policies on public domain works.

At the time of this writing, you can publish on the Nook store without restrictions. Kindle stores allow public domain works, but will only give you 35% of the royalties instead of 70%. They also require that the works are either annotated, illustrated or translated to be considered. The iBookstore allows public domain works, but requires documented permission from the creators of the content.



How to Adapt Public Domain Works


Just publishing a piece of public domain work on these digital bookstores is not a great way to get buyers. For one, there’s a good chance someone else has published it already. Also, many of these books are outdated, don’t have photos or use an older or more formal version of English.

In order to launch a public domain work that’ll actually sell, you need to adapt it. By adapting it, you make the work your own. You add value to it, rather than just use what’s already there. You greatly increase your chances of success.

Here are a few different ways to adapt public domain works.

Add an Action Plan

For “how to” books, add an action plan.

For example, Chapter 1 might talk about the basics of how to train a dog. At the end of the chapter, add your own “action plan” that tells people exactly what to do. Do this for every chapter.

You can then rename the book to something more action-oriented. For example, instead of “Dog Training 101,” you could call your book “A Step by Step Plan for Dog Training.”


Add Images

Add relevant images to an older book. For example, if the book is talking about dog training, hire an artist to draw out all the various tricks and positions you want to teach your dog.

There are a lot of different ways you can get images. You can use stock images. You can hire an artist. You can even do it yourself.


Add Step by Step Photos

At least once every chapter, add “step by step” photos.

You know those safety cards behind every airplane seat? Remember how every instruction is illustrated with cartoons, step by step?

Do something similar. If you’re publishing a fishing book, make an image that visually shows how to bait a hook.


Add Sidebars

You can add a lot of value to a book just by adding sidebars. A sidebar could include miscellaneous tips on the side, warning labels, references or just about any way you can think of to help facilitate the book’s content.

One great example of this is the “For Dummies” book series. They make ample use of sidebars to give warnings, extra tips, background information and a whole host of other kinds of information.

You could just add these sidebars to public domain works and make the work your own.


Make Dry Text Fun to Read

A lot of public domain works have great ideas and great content, but sound very dry. You can make it a lot better just by rewriting the text in an easier to read, more fun way.

Sometimes all you really need to do is rewrite old English to modern English. At other times, you might want to add in your own brand of personality.

If you don’t want to do this all yourself, you can outsource it quite inexpensively.



Introducing a popular work in another language can be a great way to bring new life to a public domain work. By publishing in different languages you can reach different audiences.


Publishing Your Book


Once you’ve found the public domain work, you’ve checked to make sure it’s compliant with the store you want to release it on and you’ve added value by making your own adaptation, the last step is to go ahead and publish it.

Rename the book or give the book a new spin. For example, instead of “Think and Grow Rich,” a popular wealth building book that’s now in the public domain, you might call your derivative work “Think and Grow Rich: The Updated Action Pack.”

Then just package your book, upload it and you’re done!

10 Creative Ways to use Pinterest for Business

Pinterest_for_BusinessPinterest is the fastest website in history to hit more than 10 million unique monthly visitor – Faster than Facebook, faster than Twitter and faster than Google. It went from 4.8 million unique in November 2011 to 11 million in January 2012, a mere three months.

While many business people consider Pinterest to be a small site, it’s really not. Its user base is already huge and it’s growing at an astoundingly fast face. Business owners simply can’t afford to ignore Pinterest anymore.

Over 80% of Pinterest users are women. Pinterest is a powerful tool for interacting with female buyers and decision makers online. Here are ten creative ways to use Pinterest for your business.

1 – Buzz for Your Product with a Photo Contest


Pinterest is a great platform for contests. You can use it in conjunction with another tool like Facebook to organize the details of the contest.

Host a contest for the best pin of pictures of your product or wearing your logo gear being used in the real world. People from all over the world will pin photos of your product in action or sharing your brand, bringing in more traffic and free branding.


2 – Become an Authority on Pinterest


Much like on Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere, one of the best ways to get attention is by providing high quality content.

If there’s an industry you know like the back of your hand, create content-based boards that give other people ideas and help solve problems. Keep doing this until people see you as an authority on Pinterest.


3 – Shopping Lists


Create helpful shopping lists. For example, let’s say you run a party supply company.

You might create a Pinterest board for each different kind of party: Kids’ party, surprise party, office party, etc.

For each party, create pins as shopping lists. For example, a kid’s party would need a cake, party hats, noise blowers, confetti and so on.

Provide real value with your pins and if it’s appropriate you can slip your own products in there.


4 – Add the Price Tag to Suggest a Gift


Have you noticed how some items on Pinterest have a price tag on them? You can do this just by adding the price in the description while using the $ symbol.

For example, if you say “This bowl only $9.99” the price tag $9.99 will appear on the image and it will also appear in the “Gifts” category.


5 – Market Research


Use Pinterest as a market research tool.

What are your customers thinking? What do they want to buy? What are their hopes and dreams? What products are trending?

Figuring out the answers to these questions has traditionally been quite tough.

With Pinterest however, you have a live feed of exactly what everyone in your target market is thinking about and cares about right now.



6 – Product Bundles


Use Pinterest to create product bundles. Group several different items together and promote the whole package as a bundle.

You can even put out product bundles on a regular basis. For example, if every week people know that you’ll have four product bundles out, they’ll subscribe to your feed to see if you release a bundle that they’ll be interested in.

7 – Future Product Ideas


What kind of ideas is your company considering?

One way to let your users participate in the decision making process is to just throw up all the possible ideas on a Pinterest board.

If there are ten different products and ten different directions your company could take, just throw them all up there and let your customers decide.


8 – Coupon Pinboard


A coupon pinboard can help you give value to your customers by helping them save money while giving you a chance to promote your own products.

Create a pinboard out of all the coupons and discount codes you can find in your industry. Slip a couple of your own in there as well. Customers who’re looking to cut costs will come, find your pin board and buy from both your recommendations and from your company.


9 – Show the Behind the Scenes


How is your product made? What does your back office look like? Who runs the company? What ingredients or components go into your product?

Believe it or not, consumers are actually very curious about the behind the scenes of the products they purchase. One fun and education pin board you could create is the “making of” photos of your products.


10 – Vision Board


Create a pin board of where you want your company to go in one, five and ten years. Use this to guide your decisions and boost employee moral.

What products do you want to be selling? What customers do you want to be serving? What countries do you want to operate out of? What size do you want your business to scale to? What should your office look like?


How Following on Pinterest Works


One of the core features of Pinterest is the ability to follow other people’s pins. By following them, you cause their pins to appear in your feed. They’ll also see that you’re following them, making it more likely that they’ll follow you in return. Here’s how to find people and boards to follow.

Finding People You Know

If you have already connected your Facebook account to your Pinterest account, it’s easy to find people you know. To find and follow the pins of your existing connections, just hover your mouse over your name in the upper right corner. This causes the drop-down menu to appear. Click “Find Friends.”


You’ll be taken to a page with all your friends’ names displayed. Just click “Follow” to follow them.


NOTE: When you choose to follow a specific person, this will have you follow all their boards and their pins. Alternatively, you can choose to follow specific boards only.

Follow Specific Boards Only

What if you only want to follow a specific board and not all of a person’s pins? You can do that and it’s a feature that’s useful if you only have some interests in common. Just click on their name, which will bring you to their profile page.

On their profile page, choose the specific board you want to follow and click “Follow” at the bottom of that board’s detail.

If, it at some later point, you want to follow all the boards of the individual, just go to their profile and click “Follow” from that page, instead of just on the board.


Finding Boards from People You Don’t Know

One rich source of images and ideas is boards by other people. People you don’t know. To find these boards, just click “Everything” along the top. A drop-down menu will appear with the topics of all the boards you might be interested in. Pick a topic.


A large feed of boards will appear. Click on a specific board to open the board. Click on a name to view that person’s profile. If you see a board or person you like, just follow them by clicking “follow” as shown above.

By selectively following people who pique your interest, you’ll be able to create a diverse, interesting and stimulating feed of pins for you on your home page.

That’s all it takes to start following people and just like it’s easy to follow them, you can remove a board or person from your stream, just as easily.


Pinterest and Potential Copyright Concerns


One of the big concerns that plagues the Pinterest community is the question of copyright. Simply grabbing an image off the web and putting it on a board could be perceived as copyright infringement.

Is Pinterest legal?

At the moment, there is no concrete court ruling that answers one way or the other. These are the most important things you need to know about Pinterest copyright issues before you jump right in and get started.

User Holds All Copyright Risks

Pinterest does not take responsibility for the content on its website.

According to Pinterest’s Terms of Service, the user takes explicit responsibility for any and all images that are posted on their Pinterest account.

By using Pinterest, the user agrees that in the case of a copyright lawsuit they and they alone are responsible.

Here’s an excerpt from the terms:

“[Y]ou either are the sole and exclusive owner of all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services or you have all rights, licenses, consents and releases that are necessary to grant to Cold Brew Labs the rights in such Member Content, as contemplated under these Terms.”

Furthermore, Pinterest’s Terms of Service agreement say that not only is the user responsible for any damages and legal fees that arise out of a lawsuit, but they’re responsible for Pinterest’s legal fees as well if Pinterest gets sued as a result of a copyright infringement on their account.

Is Pinterest “Fair Use?”

Again, there is no precedent setting case for Pinterest yet. However, the rough consensus by the lawyers who’ve looked at Pinterest say “probably not.”

In order for the use of an image to fall under fair use, the image must be used for parody, journalistic reporting, for commenting, for teaching or for research.

While a case can be made that Pinterest is a means of commenting on an image, it’s a weak argument. Most lawyers agree that Pinterest probably does not fall under the fair use act.

Kelly vs. Arriba Soft Corp – Thumbnails

One case that’s often brought up in relation to Pinterest is Kelly vs. Arriba Soft Corp, where a search engine was sued for using thumbnails of images. The court ruled that the defendant was not guilty of infringement, because they only published thumbnails and not the entire images.

However, this case does not really set a precedent for Pinterest, because Pinterest actually stores the entire image on their servers.

While a loose connection can be made between the Kelly vs. Arriba Soft Corp case and Pinterest, most legal experts also agree that this case doesn’t give Pinterest much protection.

Appropriate Image Credit May Not Be Provided

Pinterest is a thriving community because users can pin images they find and they can also repin images. The ability to provide appropriate credit for images sources relies on the person who originally pinned the content to provide that appropriate credit.


To break it down, here are a couple of examples of potential issues:


  • Instead of pinning from a website, a user decides to save the image to their computer and upload the pin. The original “pinner” has not provided appropriate credit for the image. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. Once anyone else repins the image will further perpetrate the problem.


  • Licenses to use specific images are often negotiated through 3rd parties. For example, if a blogger purchases a license to a stock photo, the blogger is usually only allowed to publish that photo on their own website. They do not have the license to allow others to republish that photo, but through the use of Pinterest, this can happen. So while someone might pin a photo on a blog post and provide appropriate credit to the blog post, the blogger is not the actual source of the image.


There are many other scenarios that can play out and can potentially be problematic. It’s definitely something to think about with your participation in Pinterest.


Site Owners Can Opt Out

 To combat copyright issues, Pinterest has recently crafted a special piece of code that allows site owners to prevent their images from being pinned. The code looks like this and should be placed in the header of your HTML.

<meta name=”pinterest” content=”nopin” />

When someone attempts to pin a photo from a website with this coding on it, they will see message that looks this:

Of course this won’t necessarily stop copyright lawsuits as it requires website owners to be aware of the code. It also doesn’t preclude people from simply going to Google Images and pinning the images from there instead. However, it is one small step in the right direction for website owners who don’t want their content pinned.

So the question remains…is Pinterest legal? Or does it promote copyright infringement? Right now Pinterest lies in a legal grey area that will likely need to get cleared up as the site progresses.


Pinterest is an extremely fast growing website that’s only going to get more and more relevant as time passes. Are you ready to get involved?


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