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© Mihail Ivanov | Dreamstime.com
Tech tips

Can I use photos I find on Google images?

When writing or creating art, visuals are an important detail to cap off your work. That’s why millions rely on platforms like Google Image Search to find the graphics they need to finish the job.

But despite the convenience of Google Image Search, there can be pitfalls if you choose and use the wrong picture. What many searchers don’t know is that images are often someone’s property, and using them without permission can result in fines, lawsuits or worse.

Luckily, there’s a solution for those who want photos for projects without the legal headache. If you start using this platform, you’ll be up to your eyeballs in gorgeous graphics that won’t require a lawyer to use. Tap or click here to learn 7 Google Search secrets you didn’t know before.

Nothing in life is free

Copyrights are placed on images to prevent their misuse and ensure the original artist or photographer gets their fair share. Without a copyright, you could take a photo that goes viral without seeing a single penny — and considering photos are a photographer’s livelihood, every dollar counts.

RELATED: Access a million free, high-quality images for any project

However, some copyrights on images can be outright draconian. Google doesn’t exactly make it easy to know the usage rights of the images it serves in its results. You’ll need to check the original website the image is hosted on to know for sure, and that adds another step to the process.

What’s the safest way to get images, then?

There are two image-hunting methods the pros use to make it easy to stay out of hot water.

Commercial stock graphics – These images are among the safest to use. Royalty-free pictures can be found on websites across the internet, and their usage terms are often outlined on the sites themselves.

These graphics are frequently checked by photo editors before being hosted, which ensures you’re not using anything with a legal “gotcha” attached. You may still need to credit the author to use them. Whether this is the case should be outlined on the site.

Creative commons and public domain – These images rarely require credit to use, and are found on platforms like Wikipedia, which are accessed by millions. These graphics are created with creative commons or public domain in mind, and the pages they’re hosted on will outline the terms typically on or below the image.

Make sure the term “creative commons” or “public domain” is used before continuing, otherwise you may actually have a commercial stock image and need to provide proper credit.

The best resource for commercial stock photos

If you’re looking for a robust database of stock photos for all of your projects, Dreamstime.com has you covered. Not only does the platform employ a handy search engine to find what you’re looking for, it even hosts graphics beyond simple photos.

Enjoy animated gifs, video clips, editorial graphics, transparent graphics and more all in one place. You’ll need to sign up for a subscription to use the platform, but once you’re in you have access to millions of photos whenever you need them.

RELATED: Facebook makes it easy to take back your photos

As commercial stock graphics, you will need to credit the original owners when using them. Thankfully, Dreamstime provides the name and account information of a photo’s owner when you click “Download.” It’s that easy!

To sum it up, simply downloading a photo isn’t enough anymore. Permissions, legal restrictions and ownership issues can complicate the use of media online. A reliable stock photo repository is the safest route to take when creating something new. What will you make?

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