07. Using photo resources and managing image rights

After text, the production and use of images is the most common technique for illustrating the news. There are many resources available online. Some of them are used freely; however, they are not necessarily free.

Sharing an image on sharing platforms

There is a wide range of platforms for sharing photos, with the best known ones being: FlickR, Photobucket, Fotolia, etc. Some of them offer free image publication, while others charge a fee. As our profession is, in part, based on selling news, it is logical and desirable to respect all the legal rules that apply to the marketing of images.

Clearly, you must not succumb to the temptation to steal images from their rightful owner, who will always end up identifying you and rightly claiming their dues! All the more so given that, if you are lacking in finances, there is a vast range of high-quality photos that have no associated rights and can be published freely. The same applies to photos and videos found on social media. It is often a good idea to contact the person who owns them to ask for permission to use them.

The Creative Commons

Take Flickr as an example, one of the platforms that receives its content from internet users, who choose to upload their content under the Creative Commons regime. There are six variations of this licence, ranging from free use that is totally free of charge, provided that the owner of the image is credited, to restricted use for which a fee is payable, subject to certain conditions and not permitting any modifications to the photo.

Aside from this system, copyright law applies in most parts of the world, which consists of obtaining permission to publish the image from its owner, in return for remuneration and under well-defined conditions concerning times and location.

Let us return to the Creative Commons. On Flickr, when you perform a search, you will see an option appear at the top left of your screen saying “Any licence”. Click on it and select “Commercial use allowed” to ensure that you only see the photos that are free of copyright for you. If you would like to be able to modify the image, select “Commercial use & mods allowed”.

Image editing

After making sure that the selected photo can be modified, there are several editing software packages available to adapt the image to your publication environment. Either your computer will already have the appropriate software, or you can choose a free program like GIMP or the online platform Pixlr.

GIMP is certainly the most comprehensive of these software packages. In particular, it allows you to change the size of your photos, so as to avoid adding too much data to the content, which will delay the page loading time. The more data an image contains, the longer it will take to load.

This is the process to follow on GIMP, once the image has been loaded into the software:

In the “Image” tab, go to “Scale Image”.

The image size is shown using two criteria, “Width” and “Height”. When you change one criterion, the other changes automatically, in accordance with the original proportions of the photo.

Once you have defined the size, click on “Scale” to see the result, then save your image by going to the “File” tab.

Please note that the size of an ordinary screen is 320 pixels for a mobile phone, 1024 pixels for a laptop and 1440 pixels for a large PC screen. Online, the best width is between 600 and 800 pixels.