A common question I get asked is
Is it OK to use Google Images to find images for my blog posts?
In short, no it isn’t.
It can be really hard to find the original source of an image, and you don’t want to find yourself using a copyrighted image without proper permission. If you do, you put yourself at risk of legal action. For a genuine blog, you want to keep your reputation intact.
While browsing DesignSponge.com, I came across this awesome flowchart about image sourcing:
Clicking on the image above will take you to the original source Design for Mankind
Just as an example, I did a search for sunflowers on Google Images:
Naturally there are a gazillion results on Google, so I picked the second one, as I have indicated with the red box.
I then dragged that image up into the search box to look for all of the image results for that particular image. The idea with this is to try and search for the original source of that image. I then selected “All sizes” to get all of the results.
As you can see from this, the chances of finding the original image were pretty remote.
So then I turned to this wonderful reverse image search site called Tineye and put the url of the image into their search box. You can also upload an image from your computer and they will search for that image online.
The results show me that the best match for the original image source, is Getty Images, a paid image site:
Getty Images states that this photo is rights-managed, meaning it has usage restrictions. It also means that it depends on what you are using this image for as to what you will be charged for it. The image author is listed as Photo Researchers. Photo Researchers Inc can be found on Science Source Images, where you can also purchase the same image under the same rights management.
Sounds alright so far, doesn’t it? Image found, you know where it can be purchased from, you know what you can use it for.
It’s not quite that simple. Searching further, I found that this image is available for free on several other sites. Some sites claim that the site is freely usable with attribution (meaning that you give the author of the image credit). Other sites have it as a free downloadable wallpaper image with no attribution.
So the questions are:
- Do you spend a fair amount of money for your right to use that image?
- Do you believe the free sites that claim this image is free for use?
- Do you take the risk that you won’t be penalised for using this image, given that thousands of other sites are using it (and I highly doubt most of those paid for the image)?
Well, I refer you to the Design for Mankind flowchart at the top of the page to make your decision.
And my opinion is that you should go to a stock photo site of some description and spend a couple of bucks to buy a similar image. Because you may never find the original source of the image that you really liked. So why take the risk by pinching it off another site that is using it?
Alternatively you can sign up for my free image resource at the top of the page and get a list of all of my favourite resources for free images that won’t put you up shit creek without a paddle. These are sites that I have personally used.
One last thing, if you do download images that require attribution, I recommend that after saving the image to your computer, you do the following:
Right click on the image
Choose the Details tab
In that tab, save all of the attribution details that you need to have for when you use the image. Save the author, web address – anything you need to use the image.
Often, if you download from a genuine site, they will usually have these details included in the image file. But it is always a good idea to check. This way if you are saving the image for later, you aren’t going to have a problem remembering where it came from when you need that information.