When you need that perfect picture to go with your killer blog post, to complement your small business website, or to jazz up your newest sales and marketing materials, it is tempting to head over to Google or Bing to do an image search and grab something that fits the bill. However, when you do that you need to be very careful that you are using a public domain image—one that you don’t need to pay for, and one that you can use freely and modify without special permission and without attribution.
After all, the last thing you want to do is invest time and money on a marketing piece, and then receive a cease and desist order for copyright infringement that will require you to scrap the whole thing and start over. You also probably don’t want to mar your marketing materials by including attribution for licensed images. And, as a general principle stealing other people’s work is unethical and just bad business.
So, how do you get great public domain images that are free to use and modify without attribution? You could turn to a Google image search, and filter for this type of image.
Here’s an example for each, using a search for “puppy”:
In Google Image Search, select “Tools” then under “Usage Rights” select “Labeled for reuse with modification,” as shown below.
Once you see an image you would like to use, it is important that you visit the page on which the image lives (using the “Visit Page” button) to make sure that it actually is a free to use public domain image. In many cases you’ll find that the image is free to use, but only with attribution (you need to give credit to the owner, and/or link back to the owner), and in some cases you can’t tell from the page whether the image is ok to use or not. Google is slightly better than Bing at getting the free to use labeling right, but in many cases it can be hard to know for sure.
So, don’t take chances with your next marketing project. Make sure you’re using free public domain images that will help promote your s all business, not get it into copyright hot water.
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