Google image search – how to find images labeled for reuse


Did you know that most of the results returned
in a Google Image search are subject to copyright and cannot be used in projects and presentations
that we create? That’s right! Just because we’ve found an image online that doesn’t mean
that we’re free to use it in our own creative works. There is a way to search for images
that we can use legally though. Here’s how. I’m at the Google Images page: images.google.com
And let’s search on images of the White House for example. I type in “White House” and hit
my Search button, and wow so many results are returned to me. I could use any of these
in my research project on the White House, right? Not so fast there! So if we were to
select one of these, we’d see a message toward the bottom that says “Images may be subject
to copyright.” And, sure enough, if I were to visit the page that hosts this image, I’m
taken to, in this case, history.com. Here’s where the image is. On this page, there’s
no indication that this image is free from copyright. In fact, at the bottom of this
site, there’s All Rights Reserved message. There’s no indication here that I’m allowed
to use this image. Let’s go back to our search results. I’m going to close this result. If
we want to see the images that we are allowed to use, the ones that are not protected by
copyright, to do that we need to use this “Search Tools” button. And then go to the
link labeled “Usage Rights.” We’ll see a few options here. I want to reuse an image, I’m
not planning on modifying the image. So, I’m going to use the link that says “Labeled for
Reuse.” You’ll notice that several images have now been filtered out of our original
set, and we’re left with the ones that we’re allowed to reuse. As I hover my mouse over
these images, I see the source URLs, Wikimedia, Wikipedia. These are sites that share content
openly, so there’s a good chance that we’re going to be able to use these images. Let
me go ahead and open one of these. And we do see that same message at the bottom right:
“Images may be subject to copyright.” Because it’s still our responsibility to check on
the copyright of these results. But now when we click on “Visit Page” we’re taken to the
Wikimedia Commons site. On this Wikimedia Commons site we see the options available
to us for using the file. We’re given the option to download the file, to link to the
file. In fact, if we scroll down we’ll also see the licensing information for this file,
which indeed does give us permission to use this file as long as we follow the conditions
of attribution and share alike. So I have to attribute it to the original author, in
this case Ad Meskens. It even gives us an example of how to do that, how to attribute
this photo to its original author. So here we’ve confirmed that this White House photo
is in fact free from copyright, and that we can use it if we attribute to its author.
So as you do your Google Image searches, remember that trick of searching for images that are
labeled for reuse. It’ll filter out those images that are protected by copyright. Good
luck!

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