How To Find Cheap Or Free Images For Logo Design Legally

by Ginger Chambers
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Whether for presentations, logos, social media, magazines, or brochures: Graphic design arouses interest in appealing image motifs. But you don’t have a large image budget and perhaps also little time to research attractive photos, illustrations, or vector graphics?  

Here you can find out which stock and picture agencies, such as iStock, Getty Images, Shutterstock, or Adobe Stock, are possible for you. You will also find numerous tips here.  

For example, what you should know about licensing rights and how you can search for and find cheap and sometimes even free images on a small budget. 

Correctly license usage rights for photos in the license agreement 

When you buy images, you are granted rights of use in a license agreement for a specific type of use under copyright law. A license agreement is concluded between the picture agency or a photographer (licensor) and you (licensee).  

The number of copies, duration of use, and media can be restricted in addition to the type of use. 

Type of use 

 Do not use images for advertising purposes that are only intended for editorial use. If you notice it, it can be expensive! Other types of use include educational purposes or commercial exploitation. 

Difference between free, royalty-free, and paid images 

  • Creative Commons license agreements grant usage rights for the unrestricted use of images. The options you have for use, however, depending on which individual CC license agreement applies. 
  • Royalty-free images can often be used indefinitely in various media after payment for a project. This term used in the USA is often misleading and does not mean “in the public domain”! The English term “Royalty-Free” or “RF” for short is also common. 
  • Images subject to license – also called “Rights Managed” or “RM” for short, are usually more expensive than license-free images. This “traditional” license is more complicated but also more exclusive. The photos may only be used following the negotiated license agreement. 

Pay attention to the exclusivity 

An image that requires a license for a designated type of use or industry offers the great advantage that a competitor cannot use the photo if it has been agreed to do so.  

In the case of royalty-free images used for the mass market, on the other hand, competitors or even large companies may use the same idea in eye-catching campaigns. 

How to avoid risks with the usage rights of photos 

It isn’t very careful to use images whose usage rights are not precisely regulated or known. Caution is remarkably advisable with providers of free photos or cheap offers, so-called “penny” stocks.  

For example, you could, for instance, with images that were initially downloaded free of charge, if the author later sells a motif for a fee that you have not infringed any image rights. 

It can also be risky when faces can be clearly seen in photos. Violations of personal rights (especially the right to one’s own image), trademark rights, rights of third parties (e.g., architects on their photographed buildings or artists on their works): These are just a few pitfalls that can lead to sensitive warnings. 

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