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  • Writer's pictureJesse Fenty

Navigating Copyright Laws: The New Reality of Google Images

Searching pictures to use in my recent articles, I notice that Google has changed their image attribution from, “this image may be subject to copyright,” to actually displaying the name of the owner or source of every image. This is apparently an effort to make clear to users that they cannot use these images without obtaining the proper permissions. Even if an image is labeled as free or stock does not necessarily mean that the image can be used without paying a fee or obtaining permission.


Finding free, non-infringing images is still possible but requires effort. One source of apparently free images is the company Unsplash, which offers a large collection of high-quality images that are free to use without attribution. Other sites such as Pexels and Pixabay also advertise free images that can be used for personal or commercial use.


However, one should be cautious when using images labeled as free, as they may not actually be free to use for your intended purpose. Always check the license terms and conditions carefully and ensure that you have the proper permissions before using any image.


As an alternative, users can consider using images that they have taken themselves or hiring a professional photographer. Another option is to use images that are in the public domain or licensed under Creative Commons, which allows for free use under certain conditions.


One must make note that copyright law is complex, and unauthorized use of copyrighted material can result in legal consequences. As an IP attorney, I strongly advise all users to obtain permission or pay for images when necessary to avoid any potential legal issues. The use of Google images, or any image found on the internet, should be done with caution and with an understanding of copyright law.


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