Updated in 2016
Have you ever wondered if it was legal to use any image you found online through a Google search? Some of us want to use an image we find on Google for our website, brochures or blogs, but is that okay? You’ve probably also heard us say that you need to add an image to your articles or pages for SEO purposes, but you may not be a photographer or want to spend money purchasing images. So can you just jump on Google and use any image found there? Here’s the low down…
It is considered Illegal to use any image that holds a copyright without that owner’s permission or without purchasing a license that grants that permission. Do not risk it! You may never be found out – however you may receive a threatening letter with a lawsuit warning because you’ve illegally used someone’s image on your site. These lawsuits could be $1000’s of dollars per image. No one wants this! But there’s GOOD NEWS – Google offers an Advanced Search option that helps you filter their Google images to only reveal those Google images that are Free License, royalty free, or open to the public for use in any way. These are the images that you’ll want to plug into your blog or website.
Find Google Images for Free
Let’s say I was looking for a “Purple Butterfly” Image – and I went over to Google Images to search.
You’ll get all sorts of results, but which images are free to use?
Click on Advanced Search
As of Feb 2016 this is how the layout of Google Images looks. If you glance at the right side of your screen you’ll see a gear icon. Click on that opens a dropdown menu that offers “Advanced Search.” Click that.
This will allow all sorts of filtering options that you can set to narrow down the millions of results to images that you are able to use freely.
When you open this dropdown option you’ll find “FREE TO USE OR SHARE, EVEN COMMERCIALLY.” Then click “Advanced Search” and you’ll see the images that Google suggests are free for you to use.
Double Check if your image is Royalty Free
Even though these images are listed by Google as “Free to Use” you may still want to even Double Check. Remember that you always want to cover yourself from being sued, or even just stealing from someone out there who kindly asked you to not use their image. There’s another resource online called TinEye. It’s called a Reverse Image Lookup. This really cool free tool allows you to drag and drop an image into it’s search feature to verify the origin of a photo. Take a few extra moments before using a found image to go through this step. You’ll discover additional info about the image, get to see if it’s been used excessively, or even find its creative commons usage.
Use Stock Images or Royalty-Free Photos
Best option for images is to use your own original images, but if that’s not an option, the second best place is to purchase a stock image. They’re not as expensive as you’d think. Check out this video resource for you http://webtegrity.wpengine.com/our-blog/web-design-tips/find-images-for-your-wordpress-website/