I am a developer working on a not-for-profit project and wanted to use an image that I found off google, I've searched around but can't find anything about the author/illustrator. Can I use this is in my project and if so, how do I give credit where its due?


2 Answers 2


Giving the author of a work credit does not excuse you/your organisation from copyright infringement. This is a commonly held belief, but it's false nevertheless. Not knowing, or being unable to find who the author is, or being unaware of the copyright status, doesn't excuse you from copyright infringement either.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. If you want to take risks like this, then consult your lawyer/legal team.

Regarding the non-profit thing, I have a true story to tell you. . .

I did some voluntary work for a non-profit community theatre company once. They used the name Peter Pan for a poster for a production based on the story of the work Peter Pan by JM Barrie, without seeking permission, and the copyright owners threatened to sue them. Despite being a non-profit organisation, they had to pay up. The theatre company didn't have enough funds to fight it in court.

  • I wish I could upvote that answer twice. Spot on answer. As an illustrator, I wouldn't be pleased to find someone exploiting my work and hear a "but I found it on Google and couldn't find you". It doesn't matter whether the person was able to find the creator or not, it doesn't void the owner's copyright claim.
    – Rhaenys
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 23:27

When citing sources it is important to follow citation guidelines. Some of the most widely accepted guidelines are from MLA, OWL, and APA.

I believe because your project is Not For Profit you can display the work of others. The specific legality needs to be looked farther into.

To answer your question about how to cite:

How to cite a digital image found on a website in MLA 8:

To create a citation for a digital image found on a website in MLA 8, locate the following pieces of information:

The name of the creator of the digital image *The title of the digital image The title of the website that the image was found on The names of any other contributors responsible for the digital image Version of the image (if applicable) Any numbers associated with the image (if applicable) *The publisher of the image The date the image was created or published *The location of the image, such as a URL

*Notes: If the digital image does not have a title, include a description of the image. Do not place this information in quotation marks or italics.

If the picture was found using Google Images, do not cite Google Images as the publisher. Instead, click on the picture and use the information from the website that is hosting the picture.

When including the URL in the citation, omit “http://” and “https://” from the site’s address. In addition, if the citation will be viewed on a digital device, it is helpful to make it clickable. This ensures that readers will be able to easily access and view the source themselves.

Structure of a citation for an image found on a website in MLA 8:

Creator’s Last name, First name. “Title of the digital image.” Title of the website, First name Last name of any contributors, Version (if applicable), Number (if applicable), Publisher, Publication date, URL.

Examples of citations for digital images found on websites in MLA 8:

Vasquez, Gary A. Photograph of Coach K with Team USA. NBC Olympics, USA Today Sports, 5 Aug. 2016, www.nbcolympics.com/news/rio-olympics-coach-ks-toughest-test-or-lasting-legacy.

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