Developers do it all the time – they need an image for a website and head on over to Google images, put a keyword in and voila! Free pictures for everyone!
Not so fast.
Many of these images are protected under copyright law and if you get caught, it’s a hefty fine. We have heard it is as high as $750 per instance. So if that image is used multiple different times, as in a header image, that can really add up.
There’s not a lot you can do about it either except plead your case to the person or entity filing the lawsuit. You may be able to go to court and get them to lower the penalty amount if you can show that you did not intend to violate the copyright, but that’s a long shot. The fact that you went to Google images in the first place means you are attempting to get an image for free.
How to avoid getting dinged…
The only way to be sure your images are on the up-and-up is to purchase them from one of the many online image repositories out there. Pay for them. It’s worth it in the long run. But you still have to be careful there and make sure you are purchasing the correct rights. Most image repositories’ default permissions include web use. If you want to use the image in print then you’ll probably need to purchase and extended license. Just be careful, it’s expensive out there….