Website Wednesday: Finding Images in Google That Are Safe to Reuse

by Kristie Burk

googleimage2_001A few weeks ago, I posted a useful chart on fair use and copyright issues for teachers.  Today, we’re going to talk about a newly redesigned feature in the Google search engine that allows users to find images by usage rights. In other words, you can find images that you’re legally allowed to reuse.  (You could find this information prior to 2014, but you had to do an advanced search.)

Start by doing your image search in Google as you would normally. (Go to Google Images or type in your keyword in a Google Search and click on “images.”)  Click on “search tools” and then “usage rights.” You now have 5 options to sort your images:

  1. not filtered by license
  2. labeled for reuse – Google will display only those images with a license that allows you to copy or modify the image.
  3. labeled for commercial use – Google will display images with a license that allows you to copy the image for commercial purposes
  4. labeled for reuse with modification – Google will display images with a license that allows you to change the image in some ways.
  5. labeled for commercial reuse with modification – Google will display images with a license that allows you to change the image for commercial use.

Two very important caveats: You still need to follow the licensing requirements of any image that you use. Most licenses specify that you give credit to the author and link back to the image.

You also should go to the website to verify that the website owns the image.  For example, if I stole the above image from another website, but this website says all the images are reusable, then it would show up in Google search as “labeled for reuse.”  (The above photo is my own.)

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