Be careful when using photos from the Web

Web-published photos are copyrighted just as if they were published in a book. If you plan to use a photo from the Web in a printed piece, be sure it is at least 300 ppi.

It’s easy to find photos of just about anything on the Web, but watch out for two key issues: permission and resolution.

Copyright

Web-published photos are copyrighted just as if they were published in a book. That means you can’t use them without permission. If you find a photo that you want to use, contact the copyright holder and ask permission. (Look for a contact e-mail address on the website.) Then remember to provide credit when you use the photo.

For more information about copyright and fair use, please see the Oregon State Universiy wiki about copyright.

Resolution

If you plan to use the photo in a printed piece (brochure, newsletter, Extension publication, etc.), be sure the resolution is adequate. Photos should be at least 300 ppi (pixels per inch) when printed.

The printed resolution is the result of the combined effects of the physical dimensions of the printed photo and pixels. For example, an 800 x 800 pixel photo printed at 2" x 2" will be 400 ppi. The same photo printed at 4" x 4" will be only 200 ppi.

Let’s assume you find the perfect photo and you have permission to use it. Its dimensions are 900 x 900 pixels. You want to print the photo at 3" x 3". Will it work? Here’s how to find out:

900 ÷ 3 = 300 ppi

In this case, the photo will work.

What if you want to use the photo at 9" x 9" on a poster?

900 ÷ 9 = 100 ppi

No luck. Keep looking for a better photo!