Can You Use Others' Pictures on Tumblr?

By David Nield

Check the copyright information before publishing other people's work on Tumblr.
i Hemera Technologies/ Images

Appreciating and reblogging content published by other users is at the heart of the Tumblr's platform -- the like and reblog buttons appear beneath every post on the dashboard, enabling you to quickly publish other people's pictures on your own blog. However, whenever you make use of someone else's content, you must check the usage rights and copyright protections for the material, and link back to the original source wherever possible.

Reblogging Pictures on Tumblr

You can reblog pictures published by other Tumblr sites from the Dashboard or from the individual post pages -- click the "Reblog" button to have the original source and any caption automatically included as part of your new post. Leave these elements in place in order to correctly attribute ownership of the picture. If the image is posted on a password-protected blog that you have access to, you will not be able to reblog the post.

Publishing Images From Outside Tumblr

You can publish images from elsewhere on the Web by saving them locally to your computer, and then using the Photo post option on the Dashboard to create a new post. Alternatively, you can use the "URL" link on the Photo post window to link to the image directly. There's also a Tumblr bookmarklet, available from the Apps page, that you can use to quickly post images to your blog -- it integrates closely with photo sites such as Flickr to automatically fill out all of the copyright and source information for you.

Recognizing Sources

Click on the cog icon in the top right corner of the post-creation window to set a link to the source of an image. If you have taken the picture from someone else, and the source hasn't already been linked to automatically -- through a reblog, for example -- then use this field to indicate that the work is not your own. Do not attempt to pass off an image uploaded by someone else as a picture that you have created.

Tumblr and Copyright

Whenever you use an image from an external site, check the copyright and licensing information displayed by it -- in the majority of cases, you will be able to reproduce the image, provided you include a link back to the creator and source. If the image isn't licensed for reproduction elsewhere, don't use it without getting permission from whoever uploaded or created it. The fair use exception for copyrighted works is a complicated one, but typically if the image is publicly available on the Web, you have provided a link back to the original owner and you aren't depriving the creator of any income, then you can republish the picture on your own blog.