You can use someone else’s photos, legally. You just have to make sure it is Creative Commons.
If you’d like to punch up your myspace, facebook, or blog with some fantastic photos, Flickr is a great resource. You can’t just go picking photos willy nilly from amongst anyone’s Flickr profile, however. You need to figure out which ones you can borrow.
Yahoo, the owners of Flikr, have made a particularly slick move in the Creative Commons License they’ve got for Flikr. Some members have chosen to mark their photos as acceptable to republish while others go even further and say you can use their pictures for commercial purposes such as using them to make some money on a commercial site.
Anyone can use a search engine to find something suitable to their needs, but that’s not exactly the most legal or polite way to find source material. It’s important to legally pick images to use when pulling pics. You’ll be saving yourself from potential heartache and possible lawsuits down the line, especially if you’re using these borrowed pics to help you make money. Plus, it’s just good intellectual property karma.
At Flickr, use the advanced search window to find yourself some images that are good to go. I’ve grabbed some screen shots and highlighted the relevant information. See? It’s this easy to get images without licensing fees.
Click on the regular search option:
Chose advanced search:
At the bottom of this page, you’ll find the creative commons fields:
Select “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed photos" and "Find content to use commercially".
My sample search of “Lotus” turned up this beautiful image:
So with a little searching you can find all kinds of awesome photos, free to use, and way better than clip art. Don’t forget to credit the photographer somehow, in hover text or in a caption; it’s only polite!