Using images from the Internet in a blog post is as easy as doing a quick Google Image Search.
But how do you know if you can legally or at least responsibly use Internet images online on your blog or social media?
Is the image copyright protected or not?
Images with watermarks or a copyright statement embedded into the image are obviously protected.
How to search and find free Internet images
But how can you make an informed decision about whether you can copy and use other images on the Internet?
There is an easy answer now with a simple usage check provided by Google Image Search.
Google has tightened up image search for copyrighted work and now provides details about usage rights for images.
Step One. Search for a suitable image
Search for an image as you normally would on Google Image Search.
But then click on the Tools button. A new sub-menu will open. Click on Usage Rights.
Step Two. Filter your image search
As there is no filter by default, select Labeled For Reuse from the Usage Rights drop-down menu.
When you do this you will notice that the selection of images changes immediately.
This is because all images protected by copyright are removed from your results.
Update: Google Image Search now shows only two options. They are Creative Commons licences, and Commercial and other licences. Instead of Labeled For Reuse, you should select Creative Commons licences.
Step Three. Select your image and check the usage rights
Select the image that you would like to use, and you will see the options available for the image, along with a selection of similar images.
Up until Google changed its Image Search, it was possible to simply open any image in a new browser tab and copy the image regardless of usage rights.
This is now not possible and is a positive move by Google in an attempt to protect usage rights for the copyright owner.
It is still possible however to do a right-click and copy from this details screen, but I would advise against this.
Step Four. Check the details on the origin site
The best way to access your selected image is to click on the Site button.
This will take you to the site that holds the image and from there you can make an informed decision about how you can use the image and if you need to add a credit.
You can see clearly from the image above that there is a free download offered for this image and that it was listed in Google as Labeled For Reuse.
While it doesn’t show in the screenshot above, there was a link on the page to a Creative Commons license page. The license details read:
The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
You can copy, modify, distribute, and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.
Now you can be sure that there is no copyright license, and you can use these images legally.
How to find free images you can legally use
You can also use many other sites that offer free stock images that you can freely use.
I compiled a list of 25 websites where you can get royalty-free images.
However, my preferred option is to create unique images whenever it is possible.
I use Canva, which is a free online app for creating images.
It is very easy to use and comes with an extensive library of free to use stock photos, line drawings, and design elements.
Of course, you can always take your own photos or use screenshots, as I have done in this article.
The days of using a search engine and copying images from the Internet are over. You always need to think about copyright and if you can use an image legally.
Not only is it lazy and wrong. There is always the possibility that it could land you in legal difficulty.
Always check. Always make sure and be responsible when using pictures from the Internet or any other online content.
Further reading: How To Find Free Images For Blogs Plus A Clever Tip For You