Can I use pictures from Google Images?

It is one of the most tempting things to do on the internet. When writing that blog post or creating that new page on our website, we all know how important it is to add imagery to our content. All too often, we find ourselves looking within image searches such as Google to find the perfect image to pair with our writing, but did you know it’s bad practice to do so?

Believe it or not, all of the images from Google are not free for us to use. Google even warns us by mentioning it, albeit in very small lettering.

“Images may be subject to copyright”


Lucky for you and the rest of us that maintain websites and blogs, Google has added the ability for us to filter our searches by Usage Rights!

When searching within Google, go ahead and click Images, like we’re all used to doing. Once you have gotten to your standard lay out of Google Images, you can then click on the last option that says Search Tools. This will open up search filters like Size, Color, Type, Time, and the subject of this blog post, Usage Rights.

Usage Rights tell you whether or not an image is allowed to be used on your website, and removes those most-likely subject to copyright.

Google images search tool for usage rights


Types of usage rights

  • Free to use or share: Allows you to copy or redistribute its content if the content remains unchanged.
  • Free to use, share, or modify: Allows you to copy, modify, or redistribute in ways specified in the license.
  • Commercially: If you want content for commercial use, be sure to select an option that includes the word “commercially.”

While it’s definitely better to use your own photos when creating content on the internet, this is a much safer option than most of us have been using. Be aware that just because something is on the internet, that does not make it public domain.  Publishing copyrighted images on your website without permission from the owner may see you incur fees and even legal action.  Always better to be safe than sorry!