I am working on a Facebook education page for my church. I often find Google search images that don't have an obvious copyright symbol at the bottom of the article or blog. How do I know if these image are ok to use? Sometimes the images are in several articles. How do I locate the original creator to request permission?


4 Answers 4


As others have said, images found on Google image search are not free to use unless they are licensed as such. Google does however have advanced search features that will show you images that are licensed for reuse, commercially or non-commercially.

When you are doing an image search, click on "Search tools" then "Usage rights" and you will get a dropdown to filter your search results:

enter image description here

You can read more about it here: Google Search Help: Find free-to-use images

Be sure to check from the source, that any images you find are licensed for free use. Don't blindly trust the search filter, it is by no means perfect.

Better still, find free stock images from one of the many good stock image sites listed here:

Or here:

  • How does google know which images are free?
    – v7d8dpo4
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 6:20
  • 5
    Google knows everything.
    – Cai
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 6:55
  • 2
    @v7d8dpo4 hits seem to come mainly from a small range of sites. A search I'd just done for an answer elsewhere on SE gave me mainly wikimedia commons, wikipedia, flickr, pixabay. All have clear licensing options at upload which tag the files and can easily be scraped by google. The few other hits I got weren't as familiar but also seem to have similar systems.
    – Chris H
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 15:57

Unless the image in question is accompanied by a specific statement telling you that it is royalty free and / or public domain then it is subject to copyright. There doesn't have to be a copyright symbol or registered copyright message present for copyright to apply.

Trying to trace any given image back to its source, identifying the copyright holder and then seeking their permission for use can be an extremely time consuming and often fruitless task. Your best bet is to search for sites that specialise in public domain or royalty free images and find something there to use.

Alternatively, there is always the option to take your own photographs.

  • Isn't royalty free often used for media which require a one-time-payment? Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 15:09
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    Yes. The term royalty free can cover everything from FOC to very expensive (i.e. Getty). The reason I include it in my answer is that there can be a significant leap in quality from completely free images to relatively inexpensive royalty free images. Crucially, once you've paid, you are free to use them without risk of further charge.
    – Westside
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 15:19
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    Well, your not free use them without risk. Your free to use them as long as you have a proper license for the work you do (stock images often have some exceptions read the license carefuly) . Also store your license payment receipt and pay it with your organisations credit card thatway there is no doubt of payment.
    – joojaa
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 17:43

Best to try to use stock images as the other folks here have said. However, if you would much rather use the image in question. You can try to get permission to use the image, thusly upholding the 8th commandment and avoiding eternal hellfire.

Going to google reverse image search. Clicking the camera button to paste a link or upload an image to the search box https://images.google.com/

Camera Button

Often a bit of detective work will either lead you to the creator or to someone who has accredited the work on their page. (it has worked for me in similar situations)

You can then ask for permission and be square with the universe.

  • 3
    Or if you use Chrome you can just right click the image in the broswer and click "Search Google for Image".
    – Cai
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 23:07

You should not use images found in google image search unless you have the proper usage right. see Creative commons licenses. You can also set your google image search to filter by usage rights (under search tools).

There are may sources for stock images such as thestocks.im a collection of roality free stock libaries.

Getty images also allows you to embed their photos into your blog for free using their embed too which will give proper attribution. Embed Getty Images

Please don't just take photos found on the internet. Photographers spend a lot of time and money to produce the images that they make and they deserve the proper credit and compensation for their work.

  • Even though this answer is correct, it should be noted that images found on google image search that are labeled for reuse can be used.
    – Summer
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 9:01

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