Is it Okay to Use Images From the Internet?

Is it okay to use images from the internet

The internet is filled with images that are available to use for free or for a fee. However, copyright laws still apply on the internet and you may be in violation of copyright law if you use an image without permission or a license.

For example, a law firm recently got in trouble for using an image they didn’t own in their newsletter. This can be a serious problem for any business, but especially for a law firm that values its reputation and its ability to communicate legal messages.


Imagery is a key part of every website, app or book. It can be used to buttress a point, break up a page of text, provide evidence of what is being written about or simply for the pleasing aesthetic look it provides.

However, using images without due permission can be a serious legal problem. If you are planning on incorporating a photo from the internet into your work, it is important to do your research and understand that the majority of images on the web are copyrighted.

This means that you will need to secure copyright permission from the owner of the image if you want to use it on your website, blog or social media account. This can be done by either contacting the copyright owner directly or by appointing someone else to do this on your behalf.

The owner of the copyright in an image will be the person or organisation who first created it. This may be a freelance photographer or artist, or an organisation that commissioned an individual to create the image.

Some pictures will have a watermark on them, indicating the name of the owner or creator, or the c symbol to indicate that the picture is copyrighted. This is a good indication that the image is protected by copyright, and you will not be able to use it without permission from the owner of the image.

If you are unsure whether an image is copyrighted, it is always best to get professional advice before using it. Intellectual property lawyers can advise on the legal risks associated with the use of any image, including if it is free to use under a licence.

Usually copyright in an image lasts for the lifetime of the author plus 70 years after their death. However, there are exceptions to this rule in some cases.

Some works are in the Public Domain, which means that their copyright has expired or has been forfeited. These include works by Shakespeare and Beethoven. It is therefore possible to take a photo of these works, but you will need to ensure that the work is not essential to the photo. You will also need to ensure that you are not breaching any other rights.

Fair Use

In the past, people have been quick to assume that any image they see online is available for use in their own projects. However, this is not always the case and copyright laws are designed to protect the original creator of an artwork. Using an image without the permission of the copyright holder can lead to a lawsuit, so it’s important to understand the rules surrounding the use of images from the internet.

Fair Use is an exception to copyright law that allows limited use of copyrighted works when it benefits the public. This is done to balance the First Amendment rights of users with the protections of copyright law.

Generally speaking, fair use is determined on the basis of four factors: the purpose and character of the use, the amount of the work used, the effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work, and the effect of the use on the author’s reputation. Each of these factors may weigh more heavily than others, but no one factor alone can make or break whether a use falls under fair use.

The purpose and character of the use is the most significant factor that courts look at when determining whether a use is fair. This is because it’s the most direct way to measure the effects of a use on the original work. If the use changes the nature of the work, the copyright holder will likely lose out on revenue.

In addition, the amount of the work used is also a major factor that judges will consider when making their fair use determination. This is because it is often the most direct way to measure how much of the work has been used and how significant it has been.

This can be especially true when a work is highly creative or unpublished. These types of works tend to receive more copyright protection, which is why they can be more difficult to use without permission. On the other hand, if a work is factual and non-creative, it’s more likely to qualify for fair use as it will be less protected by copyright law.


The internet is awash with beautiful images and it can be tempting to use them for your own projects. However, many of the images you find online are copyrighted and may not be used without permission or a license.

This is a serious issue and it can have legal consequences. For example, if you infringe copyright by using someone else’s work, you could face up to $150,000 in damages (and that’s not counting attorney fees and court costs!).

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to find and use high-quality, affordable stock images for your projects. These include finding a reputable agency and reading the terms of the licensing agreement.

For example, if you’re looking for a photo of a person, try EyeEm, which features more than 60 million photos uploaded by creatives from all over the world. Their prices are reasonable and model releases are on file.

There are also many free stock photo agencies out there. These companies have a variety of different licenses, so it’s important to know which one is right for your project.

Some are more open than others, so be sure to check the license before you download the image. For example, some are released under a Creative Commons Zero license, which means that there are no restrictions on use and you don’t need to attribute the work.

It’s also important to note that some licenses do not apply in certain countries or regions. These are rare but can be an issue, so be sure to read the license carefully before you use any of these images.

Another important factor to consider is the type of work being used. Some images are considered to be protected speech under the United States’ First Amendment and may not be uploaded to Wikimedia Foundation servers, while other images are considered defamatory or contain other issues that would prohibit them from being uploaded.

Generally, you should avoid using images that are watermarked, distorted or have any credits or titles in them. If you must use these kinds of images, they should be credited at the top of the article where you are using them.


Attribution is a practice in marketing that helps you understand which of your marketing channels or campaigns contributed to a sale. This can be a very useful practice for your business.

First click attribution is when you measure the first touchpoint that leads to a sale, this could be an email campaign or a social media post. It is a great model for ecommerce businesses as it can help them to know which of their efforts are the most successful and then continue to create more of those campaigns, this would allow you to shorten the sales cycle, increase average order value and increase customer lifetime value.

Pipeline attribution is another model that you may want to consider using for your business as it shows which touchpoints a customer goes through before they make a purchase, this can be very helpful for ecommerce businesses as it allows them to see what their customers are doing before they buy and can then create more of that behavior.

When quoting images from the internet, it is a good idea to check the terms of use (or copyright/ permissions section) to find out what attribution requirements are. If there are no attribution requirements then you can simply cite the creator and title of the image with the source being a URL to the website where the image is hosted.

Public domain images can be difficult to locate attribution information for so it is best practice to include at a minimum the creator’s name, title of the image and the source. For internet content this should be the full URL to the image source page or database to track the source.

There are many excellent online image databases that you can use for citing images such as Artsor, Early Encounters in North America, Grove Art Online and so on. The terms of use are set by the database license and these can be found on the database’s website.

There are also a number of Creative Commons licenses available for images from the internet, it is always best to research which one is the most suitable for your use. The most popular licence is CC0, this does not require users to give credit for their image and it does not restrict how you use the photo but it is still always best to give a clear attribution statement to avoid any confusion from your readers.

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