Image Usage on Websites

Something I get asked a lot about is image use on a website. It still fascinates me after 10 years of running my own business that so many are unaware of copyright law regarding images. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the phrase “But its on Google so it must be free to use!”

The simple fact is no its not free to use!!! Google index images just as they index written content and as such they have millions if not billions of images that look available. If you want to use something for a website then you have quite a few legal options open to you.

1. Use your own images – they belong to you but of course they need to look professional.

2. Purchase images – use a company like dreamstime, shutterstock etc. This can be costly though so its not something I recommend especially for a start-up. There are some cheaper options out there like so they are a good back up option.

3. Use professional FREE image companies like or – these are fantastic sites and offer free professional images. Pixabay asks for a donation if you wish. With the above companies just check the usage rights on each picture.

4. Use Google – but use it right. Go to a Google search and click on images. Then click on search tools and then Usage Rights. There you will see a lot of options but “Labeled for reuse” is the one where you can be sure you are able to take the image. I bet your options of images went way down didn't it? Even then you still need to check the website you are taking the image from as they may have copyright listed on there. Most brand images cannot be used for this reason so if in doubt – don't do it! The same with images of famous people.

I send out letters and emails all the time and 9 times out of 10 it is just pure ignorance and the images are removed without an issue. My emails are always polite and are received well but some companies don't even give you the option to take down the image – they slap you with a bill for the use! Sometimes you get some “interesting” replies to emails but just remember if someone does contact you about taking down an image they own – they worked hard to create that image and often for a client who has paid for that professional service.

Happy image hunting!