When people put time and effort into their work, they deserve the credit when we use their online stuff. Essentially, it we didn't create it, it's not ours to use freely. Although I did use other people's graphics on this blog without permission, back in the day, I never do it anymore, because I wouldn't appreciate someone passing my stuff off as their own.
Believe it or not, I once stopped at someone's house to ask if I could buy a few of their beautiful lilacs. The homeowner happened to be flattered and generously said yes without running me off their property or taking any money! If they hadn't answered the door, I would not have helped myself anyway; I avoid using any photos or graphics that do not give credit back to the photographers or creators. If I find a photo or graphic that I'm just dying to use and can't find the original creator, I make my own or go without.
Recently at school, we taught students how to avoid using copyrighted photos. It's very simple, so I thought I'd share it here.
Google Search: Type in the subject of the image you're looking for
Click Search Tools
Click Usage Rights
Click Labeled for reuse
*If you're dying to use a photo that's copyrighted, try contacting the owner and simply asking.
*Take your own photos and store them with tags for future use.
*Create your own buttons/graphics.
To be perfectly honest, you're unlikely to get in major trouble using random photos you've found on Google (you're more likely to simply be asked to take the photo/graphic down) but it's the principle of the thing; why not just make a habit of doing the right thing?
While writing this post, I learned that PicMonkey now lets you create your own graphics, for free!
I whipped this button up in less than ten minutes.
You are welcome to use it freely, without even asking :)