When we are building or updating a website, more often than not, the topic of images being needed will pop up.  In most cases, this isn’t a problem as many of our clients are fortunate enough to have good photos or we have already agreed to provide stock images for them.

However, this isn’t true for all clients and it is really common for them to say “Can’t I just use the images I find on Google?”
Sadly, the answer is often a NO!

But why not, why can’t you just pick a great image you have found in the Google search results and pop it on your site? Well, the reason is simple, the image is likely going to have a copyright on it and you won’t have permission to use it!
This in itself can confuse most people and it is easy to understand why, after all, if the image is available, it must be ok to use it, surely!

The problem really boils down to the rightful owner and how they have allocated the permission to use the image. Most commonly, it will be the original photographer who will seek out damages for copyright infringement. After all, it is their wealth of experience, potentially years of perfecting their skills, the cost of their equipment and also their creativity that is not being recognised.

When we explain this to our clients, most understand how it is wrong to simply grab an image from Google (or anywhere online) and simply put it on their site.

Here is an example of how easy it is to fall foul of copyright infringement.

We searched for ‘butterfly’ on Google and as expected, there were plenty of results. We found a rather nice looking image (highlighted in red)


Don't use images from Google for your website

Be wary of using images on your site from Google

Now,when click on the image, you see a little more information about the image and an important part that often goes unnoticed by many but it is really important!

Google image copyright warning

Take note of the copyright warning


At this point, most people will either ignore the warning (and grab the image anyway) or stop.
If we look a little further we can see how widespread the infringement issue is, if you go to https://images.google.co.uk/ you can see where this image is being used

Check the status of images using a reverse Google image search

You can use a reverse Google image search to check how many times it has been used


When you check the results you can see there are many sites using the same image and most are likely to be infringing copyright too.  Just because there are so many sites using this image, it doesn’t mean you can – it may just be that the owner of the image hasn’t chased up the improper use.

How many other sites are using the same image

The number of sites using the same image may be surprising

So, what are the alternatives?

You can use Google to find suitable images, you just need to know how to search for them.

Well, stock library sites are often the best place to go as these will sell a license to use the images.  Places like www.shutterstock.com or www.123rf.com are great and cost-effective.  A more expensive option could be www.istockphoto.com or if you’re lucky enough to have a large budget then www.gettyimages.com may be the one for you.

As a general rule, if you are in any doubt about using an image, just don’t risk it.

If you would like to know more about sourcing images for free that ARE safe to use then get in touch with us, we’ll be happy to help