What photos can I use for my website or blog?

Nowadays, it is essential to use eye catching images for websites, blogs and other types of posts on the internet because they seem more attractive to potential viewers or clients. This is all made easier by the amount of information available through Google and other search engines.

Moreover, there is a common misconception that any image on the internet can be used for other purposes so long as the author is cited or mentioned. This is untrue because no matter how many people visit the site or whether it is likely the author will realise or not, it is always necessary to get the owner’s permission.

Despite the fact that all kinds of images are available on the internet with no apparent control, this does not mean that anyone can use them without repercussions. Every image has an author and owner, and they have rights which are protected by copyright and intellectual property laws. If an image is on the internet that does not automatically mean it is available for public use.

With that in mind, what kinds of images can be used for creating websites, different kinds of publicity, blogs or articles to be published online? Can Google images be used or do we need to use special databases?

Firstly, it should be established that Google is not an image database itself but rather a search engine that brings up different links and images from different sites. This means that the images are not inherently free to use because they come up on Google, but rather each site or link may be protected or not and illegal to use without permission or there may be no issue.

However, if you do wish to use Google for finding images, you should select the ones that have the author’s permission in writing or if they have a license from Creative Commons. Creative Commons is a non-profit organisation that helps spread free material from different authors such as photographers, directors, writers among others, by creating different types of licenses.

If you want to know more about Creative Commons’ licensing, you can visit their web page here: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/?lang=en

One benefit of using Google is that it allows us the option of doing an advanced search of only the images that we can use freely. There is an option for selecting different types of usage rights that we will explain here:

The first step is to go to Google’s home page (www.google.com) and find the Images tab and click it. When you have reached Google images, find the Settings tab at the bottom and click that. The settings tab will have a list of options to choose from and we want to choose Advanced Search. Click that and it will take you to another screen with many options for narrowing down your search, we want to go down to where we see Usage rights. There will be a drop-down bar next to it. The drop down-bar gives you a list of five options to choose from with their explanations.

  • Not filtered by license: These include all images without discerning between those that are free to use and free of restrictive licenses or not.
  • Free to use or share: These are images that are free to use or share but without modification and not for commercial use (used for business or publicity). This means that they should be used as they were found.
  • Free to use or share, even commercially: These are images that are free to use or share including for commercial use, however without modifications.
  • Free to use, share or modify: These images can be used freely and modified, but not for commercial use.
  • Free to use, share or modify, even commercially: These images can be used freely and modified as well as commercially.

Whenever using an image that is property to a third party, it is always necessary to make sure of the type of license put in place or lack thereof. The owner’s authorisation should always be given when necessary. What do you think about the matter? Let us know and leave a comment below!

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