Copyright Law – Google Images Aren’t Always Free

Google Images - Free for the Taking

You have the perfect image for your website. You click on the “purchase” button and discover it is going to cost $40!! There must be a better way. So, you look on Google Images and find one almost identical. Nothing on the image by way of watermarks or ownership, so you download it. A little cropping and resizing and, voila! Image on your website!!

Look at you! You just saved $40. But wait, did you really save $40 or did you just put your business at risk?

Unfortunately for you, almost every image on Google is Copyright protected. What does that mean you ask?

Copyright: 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.

In a nutshell, if you create something, you are protected by copyright law. This is true for most countries. The owner/creator does not have to announce or publicize that he/she owns the property. Therefore, it is your responsibility to find out the legal status of each image.

The Quick Fix - Mentioning the Contributor

Aaaah, you have a fix! You will put in a link to the owner’s website and mention them on your site. Brilliant!! Not so much. Unless you have specifically asked, and received permission, from the owner, you are in violation of that law. The only safe and sure way to use an image from the internet is to purchase a license for that image.

Worth the risk, you say?! Hmmm, the owner is now within his/her rights to begin legal action against you. It doesn’t matter if you took one photo, or many, you are still in violation and are subject to the full effect of the law.

By the way, even if you didn’t pick the image (you let your website guru do that for you), and there isn’t a license for the image, you the one who is liable, not your guru.

Music - Just as Strict

Guess what?! Music works exactly the same way! That awesome new song out on the radio would be perfect for your project. Unfortunately, you don’t own the rights so you have to get written permission or purchase a license. There are a lot of musical pieces that are not available period. Consequently, be very diligent when using music for your project.

Your entire site can be locked down for disobeying copyright laws. It just isn’t worth the risk. Because someone created the artwork, image, and/or musical item, they deserve to receive the credit and compensation for their work.

Don’t panic! There are sites out there where you can obtain that perfect image for your marketing. How, you may ask? Creative Commons licensed images are public domain. This means that they can be copied, edited, and distributed … without fear of penalty. The artist is being really generous and is sharing their talent with the world, for free.

Here are a few sites you may find to be beneficial:



Open Clipart

PNG Tree

So, respect the copyright laws and keep yourself out of hot water. Check out the free sites and if you can’t find what you are looking for, buy the license. It will be cheaper in the long run.



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