Is it Okay to Use Images From the Internet?

Is it okay to use images from the internet

While it may seem like a no-brainer to take photos and images from the internet for your website, they are actually protected by copyright law. Obtaining images without permission can get you into serious trouble with image copyright infringement.

It’s better to spend a little time getting permission, whether it’s through a free license such as creative commons or by paying for the image through a stock photo site.


Copyright is a federal law that protects original works of authorship including literary, written, dramatic, artistic and musical work. It applies to all works created from the moment they are fixed in a tangible form, and includes photographs.

When you find a great image on the internet or in your library databases, you may be tempted to immediately use it for your web page, blog post, presentation or other work. But before you do, it is important to determine the image’s copyright status.

Images are a key part of online content; they can take posts from drab to fab, add a visual component to commentary or illustrate an idea with an infographic. But grabbing images off the internet without permission can lead to a hefty fine. It’s the creator’s responsibility to make sure their work is used legally, and it can be tricky to know how.

The first step to ascertaining whether or not an image is copyrighted is to ask its creator. If they say yes, you can go ahead and use it. However, if they aren’t sure or have assigned the rights to someone else (such as their employer), you may need to request permission.

In some cases, your research may reveal that the image you want to use is free for your use. This includes images that are in the public domain because their owner has died or abandoned all rights to the work. In addition, some images are licensed under Creative Commons (CC) licenses that allow you to use them as long as you give credit to the image creator.

It’s also possible that the image you want to use is subject to a separate license agreement with the content provider. This means you must follow the terms of that license, even if Fair Use would otherwise apply. For example, many images in library databases are subject to specific licensing agreements and can only be used for educational purposes. If you’re not sure what the license terms are, contact the librarian for the database in question. They will be able to provide further guidance.

Fair Use

When creating a blog post, website page or ebook, images are crucial to making the content stand out and look professional. However, it’s important to remember that copyright laws protect images just as much as they do written works. In fact, if you are caught using someone else’s copyrighted image without permission, they can sue you for monetary damages, including potentially astronomical statutory damages.

Thankfully, there is a legal doctrine called fair use that allows you to legally use images that are protected by copyright. Fair use is designed to allow you to take a limited amount of the work for certain purposes, such as commenting, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship or research. However, there are a lot of nuances to this doctrine, so it’s best to always get permission and/or pay for images to avoid any legal trouble.

One of the most common ways that people violate copyright law by using an image without a license is by simply pulling it from the internet. This can happen when they are rushing to create a social media post or marketing piece and just need a quick, pretty picture to go with their text. In these situations, they might just Google the image and pull it off of the first search results.

This can be a problem because images are often protected by copyright, and it’s not uncommon for the copyright holder to track down these instances of unauthorized use and sue for astronomical statutory damages. In the past, some photographers have even been forced to sell their photos at auction because they were being used illegally by people like you and me.

To avoid being sued for infringement, it’s important to know how to properly use images online. It’s not as hard as you might think – just make sure you understand the copyright rules and always get permission and/or pay for images before you start using them.

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Attribution is a legal requirement for some images, and it’s an important way to keep track of who’s responsible for the work. It’s often easier for readers to understand what steps you took to create an image when it’s credited in your article or tutorial. In addition to photo credit, you should also include a link to the photo’s original source.

Generally speaking, you should follow the TASL method of attribution (Title Author Source License) when using Creative Commons images. However, a number of sites offer CC images under different licensing terms, so it’s important to read the fine print to determine whether you need to attribute your image differently.

Stock photography websites are full of photos that can be purchased and used at a low cost. Many of these sites have a variety of categories, including animals, landscapes, and objects. The quality of these photos is surprisingly high for the price, and they are perfect for use on a website or in a presentation.

The majority of stock photography is available under a free license, and you can find it on websites such as Pixabay, Photos for Class, Foter, Pics4Learning, and ClipSafari. You can also find it in online databases such as Yok University Library’s Digital Collections.

Some photographers will charge a fee for the use of their images, but most will not require attribution if they know you are using them in accordance with their terms and conditions. It’s best to formally agree on attribution terms with the photographer, so there are no surprises down the road. Otherwise, you may find yourself in violation of the copyright laws if you publish an image without a proper attribution. This can lead to lawsuits and other unpleasant consequences. Fortunately, avoiding these problems is easy by following the laws of fair use and attribution.


The simplest way to avoid copyright infringement is to make sure that you have permission from the image’s owner to use it. Permission may be obtained through a license agreement with the copyright holder, or through other means. For example, some images may be distributed through a library database with permission from the image’s creator, or via a Creative Commons (CC) license. These images are generally clearly labeled as CC, and require proper attribution in the form of a link to the image’s source. In addition, some images will be accompanied by a “no derivative works” or other restrictions which limit the ways in which they can be used.

While it’s easier than ever to find and download images, the internet has not changed copyright laws. It’s still illegal to create and host a website that contains copyrighted work without the explicit permission of the owner. In some countries, even linking to a copyrighted image can be considered copyright infringement.

When it comes to photos, there’s an extra level of complexity. Many people mistakenly assume that because a photo is on the internet, it’s in the public domain and free to use. But this is not true.

In fact, images can be subject to copyright protection just as easily if they are downloaded from a stock photo site or purchased from a photography studio. This doesn’t mean that you can’t buy or download photos, it just means that you need to carefully consider the purpose for which you want to use them and obtain permission if necessary.

Regardless of where you get your images, it’s important to understand the difference between copyrighted and non-copyrighted images. If you’re not sure whether an image is copyrighted or not, assume that it is, and don’t use it without permission. In the worst case, if you’re found to have infringed someone else’s copyright, you could be ordered to remove the offending images and pay their attorneys fees. This is why it’s always best to play it safe and only use images you know are in the public domain or have been licensed for re-use through a Creative Commons license.

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