When you place an image on your website, that image needs to be an original photo taken by members of your staff, a photo taken by someone else that is used with explicit permission, or a photo that has been licensed for fair use.
Simply citing the source of an image that is copyrighted is not sufficient. Republishing images off of Google image searches or other websites is not legal and can result in your publication being liable for compensatory damages to the copyright holder. Therefore, it is important to only use those images, audio, and video for which permission has been granted or secured through a license fee or Creative Commons license.
If photos are not taken by your staff, it isn’t enough to simply credit where on the web the photo was taken from. Your staff will actually need to secure permission from the person/organization that originally took the photo. The only exception is when using photos for reviews (such as movies or music) — under copyright law, this is considered fair use, and you can safely credit the movie studio or recording label. The NFL and Biggest Loser stories on your site would qualify for Fair Use. We recommend crediting these as from the organization that originally created the image (NFL or NBC).
In order to use a photo from another news outlet, you need to obtain express permission from that news outlet and label the photo as “Photo by ______ from ________ used with permission”.
Because most news outlets don’t give permission for republishing their photos, we recommend searching for photos that have been licensed for republication under the Creative Commons.
Wikimedia Commons, or http://commons.wikimedia.org/,is a large database of free and legal photos that can be republished. When publishing a story from this site, we recommend labeling it as “photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license”.
Another great way to find fair use photos is to do a Google image search and then in the search tools option, select “Labeled for Reuse”. When using a photo from a search like this, we recommend labeling the photo as “photo via __________ under the Creative Commons license”.
You can also try conducting a search through a royalty-free search on Flickr. Google search tools also offer ways to search for images that may be available for reuse. After doing an image search on Google, click on Search Tools and then select “Labeled for Reuse”; when using a photo gathered this way, make sure that you label the photo with the appropriate license. If a photo is a Creative Commons photo, a good way to label it in the photo credit or caption field is “Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license” with a link (if possible) to where the photo was taken from.
If a photo is copyrighted by another photographer but you have secured that permission, a good way to label it in the photo credit or caption field is “Photo used with permission from _____.”
For music and movie reviews, an image from the artist/studio can be used as fair use along with your review. Just be sure to give credit to the actual artist/studio for the photo.