Can I Use Google Images on my Blog or Website?

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” Indeed it is. In our visually dominated world, pictures and video are key components that often get overlooked when creating any blog or website. Not having a picture is akin to having only half a post. It’s not as easy as just Googling the image of your choice and sharing it to your blog. As with its analog and physical counterparts, digital data is also subject to copyright laws. 

Updating images and photos on a website regularly keeps it fresh and up to date. Well-chosen images can even improve the user experience by breaking up large blocks of text, adding visual interest, and guiding users through the website’s content. If your website could use some design help or a complete refresh, we can help! Click here or give us a call at 617-539-6528 today!

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This article will provide an answer to the question that bloggers and website owners ask themselves every day: can I use images from Google on my website or blog?

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What Is Copyright?

Copyright is defined as “The exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same.” (University of Portland). In a nutshell, when you create original media – be it a play or a piece of art or a song – you have the right to tell anyone to not use it if you don’t want to. If they do, without your express permission, you can sue them.

Some copyrighted items have “terms of use”. This means that the creator has set forth specific circumstances in which the piece can be used. If these circumstances are violated, you are liable to be sued.

Fair Use

Fair Use comes into play if you are doing a review or report on an entity and require a photo that you did not take yourself. The Fair Use Doctrine allows for limited and reasonable uses, provided they do not interfere with the owner’s rights under copyright law.

Section 107 of the Copyright Act states:

the Fair Use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

the nature of the copyrighted work; the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Source: 17 USC Section 107.

Can I Use Images From Google on My Website?

The short answer is No, you cannot use pictures that you find on Google on your blog or website. That being said images are still a key component of any good website. Even though they may seem like frivolous, filler pieces they actually play a key role in the user experience and readability.

There are a couple of different options for finding pictures for your posts online. If you do search on Google for images, it’s important to ask for permission before using them in a post. You can Visit Page (red circle) where the image is hosted, find the owner of the image, and ask for their permission to post. Google also makes sure that you know that images may be subject to copyright (blue circle). Once you contact the owner of the image, they may or may not give you permission to post it. If they don’t, it’s best to just move on and find another image.

Image Sources on the Web

If you do not want to take the route of asking the owner of an image for permission, there are plenty of other free and low-cost options for finding great photos for your website:

  1. Public domain or Creative Commons-licensed images: Public domain images are free of copyright limitations, however Creative Commons-licensed images have different limits of usage based on the license type. Platforms such as Unsplash, Pixabay, and Wikimedia Commons can be used to search for public domain or Creative Commons-licensed photos.
  2. Purchase Stock Images: Stock image websites have a wide variety of images that you can use on your website or blog. These platforms offer licenses that allow you to use the photographs as long as you follow the rules of the license agreement. You can find great stock photos at very affordable prices.
  3. Create Your Own Images: Creating your own images is a great way to set yourself apart from the competition and ensure that you are not infringing on any copyright laws. You can create your own photos by hiring a professional photographer or even experimenting with your own phone or camera.

These are just a few of the many resources for great free and low-cost stock images on the web. We use BigStock Photo for all of our stock photography. If you are a blogger, getting an account with a stock photography website is a good idea. However, if you’re pinching pennies, there are some great sites that offer free stock photography:

If you’re still unsure of what images can or cant be used, or just need some guidance in your website design process, Compete Now is more than happy to help you. We can provide regular website maintenance as well as digital marketing services, so your business’s website stays up to date and discoverable to potential clients. Get started by clicking here or giving us a call today!