Google Images: What You Need to Know

Google Images: What You Need to Know explains why you shouldn’t assume that all images that appear in a Google search are available to be used freely.

You’ve written a blog post and you’re searching for just the right picture to go with it. Say, your blog post is on dogs, specifically Great Danes?

So you fire up Google and type in “Great Danes” and then you click on the Images option above the search criteria field.

Google images - Great Danes search

And, wow! All of the sudden there are a million gazillion pictures of Great Danes there at your finger tips. Woohoo! You’ve just hit the Great Dane jackpot!!

Uhm, hold on a minute. It doesn’t quite work that way.

Step away from your keyboard. Do not start madly opening and saving those pictures to your computer.

Take a deep breath and please don’t freak out when I tell you this: You probably, in fact most likely, cannot use these pictures.

Google is a search engine. It indexes websites including the images on those websites, but for the same reason you can’t start randomly copying and using text from a website just because it’s on Google, you can’t start randomly copying and using images just because they’re on Google. Sooner or later pretty much everything can be found on Google, but this content belongs to someone else and unless permission is specifically granted on the site allowing you to use this information freely, it’s best to always assume that it’s copyrighted and it’s hands off.

Case in Point

Maybe you’ll understand if I explain it like this:

  1. Go back to Google.
  2. Type in “Shelley Sturgeon”.
  3. Click on the Images option.
  4. You will see many of the images from my website. Some are personal photos or photos taken by family or friends. Some are post images that I’ve used from photo stock sites.
  5. If you click on specific images such as this one below:

    Google images - Writers Stack Exchange

    It will be enlarged.

  6. Click on the “Visit page” button and it will take you to the website page on this blog where this image appears.
  7. Scrolll to the bottom of the post and you’ll see that I’ve added photo credits acknowledging where I got the photo. I had permission to use this image if I provided these photo credits.

So, if I had to follow certain rules in order to use an image, does it make sense that you can just copy that image because it’s a “Google image”?? Uhm, no!

You could also try this by entering your own name or the name of your blog into Google and selecting one of the images from your blog, preferably one that you wouldn’t want other people randomly copying from Google just because it’s there and using for themselves. Get it now? 🙂

There are a lot of free sites where you can download images. A post for another day. These sites usually require photo credits although this is not always the case. You need to read the terms and conditions.

Photo credit: Pixabay

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