This has always been an important subject for me because I deal with it in my career as a graphic designer. Generally, I assume that everything on the web is copyright protected, unless it states otherwise. If no copyright or trademark information is given, it is still protected. You may wish to check out this easy explanation of copyright and fair use.
Where can you find copyright-free pictures?
Some websites offer inexpensive royalty free stock photography and illustrations. These can be purchased for a couple of dollars. But if you're cheap like me, you may prefer these free alternatives:
- Google Images Didn't I just mention not to go there? However, Google Images provides an option to filter for image type. If you click on the "Advanced Image Search" link, you can do a search for different image rights. Try searching for images "labeled for reuse" or "labeled for commercial reuse with modification".
If you're wondering if anyone on the web is using your personal images, there are a couple of tools that can help you find them: