I first read about Creative Commons in an article in Reformed Worship called “Eight Projection Basics,” an excellent article for anyone who creates slides for your church. In the article, Mr. Heetderks writes that one way he finds images is using the advanced search in Flickr to include only those images covered by the Creative Commons license. (If you haven’t heard of Flickr, it is a web-based photo sharing site.)
On the Creative Commons website, they write their mission: “Creative Commons develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation.” More specifically, “With a Creative Commons license, you keep your copyright but allow people to copy and distribute your work provided they give you credit — and only on the conditions you specify.”
Most likely your church is using images in many ministry areas—on your website, newsletters, bulletins, Power Point slides, flyers, banners, posters, on and on. In many cases, you (or whoever is creating the material) search on the web to find the images. Creative Commons licenses were made for the way most people use the web. Many times people are willing to share their images, as long as they get credit.
You can look for the Creative Commons license text and logo on the sites where you find image. You can often, as the Reformed Worship article stated, restrict your search only to show images with the Creative Commons license by going in to the Advanced Search section. This is especially useful on Flickr, where there are many wonderful photos people are willing to share. Find what you like and then site your source wherever you use it.
On a “turn about and fair play” note: If you are willing to share the images you put on the web, you can easily apply for and receive a Creative Commons license yourself. The website explains the different licenses and even has a “license chooser” to help you.