Using Internet Images Responsibly

Finding Internet images to use on 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 on your blog? Is it copyright protected or not? Images with watermarks or with a copyright statement embedded into the image are obviously protected and cannot and should never be used, but how can you make an informed decision about other images? There is no easy answer, but with a simple check, it is possible to find out if an image has been widely used, and is, therefore, and probably, relatively ok to use.

My rationale here is that if an image has been widely used, then the chances of it being protected or its use being restricted by the originator are minimal. There are no guarantees however, but to my mind this method of selecting images reduces the chance of copyright infringement by at least doing some responsible research before using an image.

Like most self-published authors I do a lot of blogging and I need images for my posts, but I can only give the reassurance that I have not had any nasty surprises from upset copyright owners in all the time I have been using this method.

I have to thank Andreas Brandtner @Brandtner_lit for his Twitter message asking me about an image I used in a recent post, which gave me the idea to write this post.

Ok, so how can you responsibly find Internet images to use?

Step One. Search for an image as normal in Goggle Image Search and click on your selected image and a box will open as in the image below.

Google Internet Images

Step Two. Look at the details in the box on the right. It is prudent to click first on the ‘Visit Site’ button to check if the site has any image restrictions noted. If not, then return to click on the small link hiding on the very right, ‘Search by Image’.

 

google Internet images 2

Last Step. After clicking on ‘Search by Image,’ you will see where the image has been used before. If the list only shows one or two items, be careful and probably best to avoid using the image. However, in the case of my sample image, it has been used many times. If you look at the second page of listings, you will see that this image has been used 328 times.

 

Internet images

I cannot say that my method of deciding whether to use an image is foolproof, but I can say that at least I checked and did the best I could to responsibly avoid infringing copyright.

Footnote addition: As one Twitter user rightly pointed out, where possible a source should be cited. However, it can be very difficult, if not impossible to find the original source of often used Internet images, so hence, my advice to be prudent and responsible in using such images. To avoid any possibility at all of the copyright infringement, I recommend using morguefile.com for images with CreativeCommons licences.

This page was last updated on December 24th, 2016

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One thought on “Using Internet Images Responsibly

  • May 12, 2017 at 11:44 am
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    Oh no, Derek!!!

    The first thing you must assume is that everything is covered by copyright, just as everything you write is. It doesn’t matter if it is widely used; if you get hit by a DMCA takedown you could find your blog taken down, or worse, at the wrong end of a lawsuit. “At least I checked” is not a legal defence.

    There are two kinds of images you can use.

    Images (or any creative works) are in the Public Domain if they are not covered by copyright. That makes them free to use anyway you wish, including commercially. Since copyright isn’t actually a right, but a state imposed monopoly. copyright terms are different in different parts of the world. You can find out what the copyright terms to determine if the work is in the Public Domain.

    This will give you an idea what is in the Public Domain in the USA:
    — > http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm
    and here’s a list for the whole world:
    — > https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries%27_copyright_lengths

    You can also safely use images that have been Licensed To Share, The most common and most widely understood licenses are those published by the non-profit group Creative Commons. Their suite of licenses that allow creators to release their works with as many or as few restrictions as they choose, Here’s a thumbnail explanation guide:
    http://techditz.russwurm.org/blogs/license-to-share/

    There are growing repositories of images you can use ~ these have public domain images;

    Pixabay https://pixabay.com/
    Public Domain Archive http://publicdomainarchive.com/
    Public Domain Pictures http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/

    Both Wikilmedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
    and
    Internet Archive https://archive.org/index.php
    have media with a variety of licenses

    When using Google Image Search or Flickr search, you can use the advanced search functions to search for images with a specific licenses: http://techditz.russwurm.org/blogs/2012/09/11/images-you-can-use/

    Thanks for Morguefile ~ that’s a new one for me.

    I guess I’m about due to write an updated article on this :)

    Reply

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