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Can I use photographs from Google?

I'm still relatively new to blogging, but unfortunately I'm not new to photograph theft. I was a professional photographer for about 4 years and often experienced people stealing my photographs. This would range from (some very large, very popular) websites and newspapers to bloggers. Now I'm part of this blogging world, I'm seeing it happening to others, with people crediting photographs from the internet to 'Pinterest' on the daily.

We should be supporting each other, not stealing each other's content.

Some people are just un-informed but some are thinking 'they'll never find out.' So I'm going to try and cross off the first group of people and give a few little tips on how to make sure your blog isn't breaking the law, because yes. It's still theft and it is illegal to steal photographs.

You can't use everything you find.

This includes photos on Google, Pinterest and Twitter. The most argued one? photographs of yourself. Unless you have permission from the photographer or took the photo yourself none of these are yours to use.

The copyright automatically gets attached to the person who pushed the button even if it's uploaded to the internet. The only exception is when the photographer's signed a contract with a third party agreeing to transfer the rights. (This is 99% of the time a really stupid thing to do. If you get asked about this please do your research!)

If you do use photographs without permission, the copyright owner has the right to sue you. 

They might just ask you to kindly remove the photograph, but they are in their rights to send you a bill for usage. Ignore it if you wish, but you may find yourself in small claims court.

Have I scared you a little? Using photographs from the internet doesn't have to be a scary process. Let's go through the different types of license so you know which photographs you CAN use.

Public Domain

This is an image who's copyright has either expired or has been forfeited. Some people will place their images online free for use. This will always be stated so do not just jump to conclusions.

Be careful as you can still be caught out if you display a person or company in a bad light using a public domain image.

Royalty Free

You usually find these images where you've paid a fee to access photographs such as a stock website.

A few examples

Shutterstock -  10 Images a month for £19/month

CanStockPhoto 6 blog sized Jpegs for £9

ColourBox  - 10 downloads per month for £27/month

Creative Commons

You often need to attribute credit to photographer.

You may be lucky and find a few that don't require attribution although it is always nice to credit the photographer!

Examples include -



What's the best option?

Honestly? It's always best if you take your own. I know I'd rather look at your own personal photographs, even if they're taken with your phone vs.  professional photographs from the internet that you've found. I'm reading your blog to learn about you, and your photography is an extension of yourself.

If you do use other's photographs, it's always nice to credit even if they haven't asked. Just think about how long it's taken them to create that photograph so you're able to use it on your blog. 

I hope you've learnt something from this post! I know many bloggers do follow copyright law, with most taking their own photographs but I can't miss up a chance to inform those who don't.

Did you already know about copyright law or did you learn something new from this post?

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