Have you recently launched a web site and now are looking for ways to improve the design by adding images? If so, you have likely realized that you can do a quick search on Google Images and find thousands of images that would work perfectly on your site. But I am willing to bet, you have always wondered: Can I Use Pictures from the Internet on My Website?
Should You Use Google Images to Spruce Up Your Site?
The short answer is you can. The long answer is you shouldn’t and here’s why: While it may seem very easy to hop onto Google and use a few images, this is absolutely the wrong way to add images to your site. These digital images, while they may be easy to find, they are not your own. They actually belong to someone else and are part that person’s or company’s website and they will not be happy with you using their property, without their permission. While it seems so easy to take these images and post them on your site, you can actually run into major photo copyright infringement issues by going this route. Images obtained without permission online can get you into a heap of trouble. It is not uncommon for companies to sue other websites for using these images. What you are doing may seem completely innocent to you, but to others who spent money obtaining these images, you are in the wrong. Some people have been blindsided by lawsuits or emails asking for significant amounts of money due to the violation of image copyright laws. For a visual example of what I mean check out this video below on using pictures from Google on your site.
Don’t Make this Mistake, Get Your Images Legally
Now that you have realized that you should not obtain images illegally online, you are probably thinking of how you are going to find images for your new website. There are actually a number of different ways that you can obtain images for your website. Some of these options require that you be more creative, while others allow you to throw a few dollars at the problem to obtain the images that you need.
How to Obtain Images Legally
1. Create Your Own Images. The simplest way to obtain images for your website is to create them yourself. This may sound complicated, but there are plenty of free graphics tools such as Gimp or Paint.net and others that can allow you to quickly design graphics for your websites. If you want to spend more money to have a better tool, you can always purchase Adobe Photoshop and the sky is literally the limit in terms of the types of graphics that you can use for your website.
2. Purchase Images from a Stock Photo Website. There are scores of different websites that offer stock photo services. Many of these sites have intuitive search engines which allow you to search for any topic which should return hundreds if not thousands of image results. Any of these images can be purchased for a small fee and then be used on your website. Some of the popular stock photo sites include istockphoto.com, shutterstock.com, bigstockphoto.com and many more.
3. Use Flickr’s Free Image Library. Flickr has a large number of free images which are located in what is called a “creative commons” library. These images are completely free and can be used on your website. This can be a great way to find images for free when you are just starting out. These images may not be as high quality as stock images, but for a new website they should serve the purpose.
What About the Microsoft Online Content Library?
The image used in this post is from the Microsoft Online Content Library. I tend to use them a lot. In most cases you are free to use these photos and clip art provided you have licensed a Microsoft product, such as Word or PowerPoint.
Another thing I always do is provide what is called an “Image Credit. This is just a link back to the source or the website I got the image from. But beware, the Microsoft site also has images displayed on it from other sources, that may require you to either buy or get permission prior to using them. You can view the actual Microsoft copyright use policy for clip art and sample media here, also what is restricted.
No matter what type of website you are creating, images are very important. Ensure when you are placing images on your site that you have the proper copyright permission. Without this permission, you could be looking at a lawsuit which is surely not your intention!
Also Worth Reading
- Our List of FREE to Use Images on the Web
- What Type of Images Should You Use Within Your Blog Posts?
Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art