All of the images on the "Free Images" page are copyright-free and in the public domain in the United States. The author of these pages makes no copyright claim to his reproduction or enhancements to these images. However, some images are affected by "underlying rights" that may influence how you can legally use them. It is your responsibility to use these free images lawfully.
This information is provided with the understanding that the author is not a lawyer and is not engaged in rendering legal services, and makes no claims as to the accuracy or completeness of the information. When working with legal issues, you should always seek experienced, professional counsel.
The information below is condensed from the book "How to Use Images Legally".
If you are using photos with people in them for advertising, you need their permission. People have a right to profit, and exclude someone else from profiting on their photograph or likeness. This right continues after their death and is given to their heirs.
Here's an example to illustrate the difference between editorial use and advertising use. If you had pictures inside a book illustrating people skiing, you would probably not need their permission. If you put that same picture on the cover of the book, you probably should get their permission.
There are areas of legal exposure to also be aware of, regardless of the editorial or advertising use of the photo. (Continued on sample pages)
Be wary of logos, symbols, devices, brand names, company names, and anything which are or should be marked TM (trademark) SM (service mark) or ® (Registered trademark) in an image. Unlike copyright, which expires after a number of years, trademarks are protected as long as they are in use by the owner. For example, a public domain picture of a famous cartoon character could get you into trouble if you used it without permission.
This book can quickly show you:
Do people violate these rules on a regular basis? Of course they do, and a percentage of them get caught. It is best to avoid the worry, the penalties and bad publicity for you, your career, and your organization.