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Don't use Google Images on your website or blog

I want to remind our friends and customers to never use Google Images on your website, blog or business Facebook page. Most of these images carry copyrights and if you use them without permission you will be caught and made to pay a high price. The image owners can and will find you. Here's how.


Photographers & image designers can now use web robots which run day and night to search every website for images that they own. Pixel by pixel they can find exact image matches. When they find one of their images that was not used with permission, they hire an attorney to sue you...and these attorneys follow through every time. They will either get paid, or they take you to court - and they will win. They will not let you off the hook for not knowing you were using a copy written image.


You can purchase cheap, safe images here: Most web-sized images here cost very little. After you purchase an image, you can usually use it and reuse it anywhere you want. I said "usually" - please do your own homework to be sure. I have no stake in this website, I just wanted to let you know what you can do as an alternative.


I have already seen settlements from $400 to $4,000 being paid to photographers who have had their images used online without their permission.


When photographers or designers post images on their own website, or anywhere online, Google Images picks these up and offers them to people who are searching for pictures to use. Most people think that because they found an image on Google Images that it is free. Nope.


The new robot software protects a photographer's work. The photographer owns the image copyrights, and it is illegal to use a copyright-protected image without permission. It's a clear-cut law. This is great news for photographers who want to show their work online, but don't want their images stolen. But, it can be bad news for good people.


Unfortunately, some disreputable photographers have found this to be a new source of easy money. These photographers will post as many of their photographs online as many times as they can manage, hoping a bunch of people will find them on Google Images and “steal” them. The photographer can then collect money for each image that they find being used online without their permission. We usually see them demanding $4,000 in copyright infringement damages per image. We know of one case which settled for as little as $400 – but that is still an expensive mistake.


If you use a copy written image on your website without permission, the robot software will find it and match it pixel-for-pixel to the photographer's image. If it matches, you will receive a very nasty (and scary!) letter from their attorney demanding you immediately pay $4,000, and threaten to take you to court for copyright infringement.  If you get one of these letters you’ve been caught. It won't matter if you immediately remove the image from your website - they have proof that you used it. They will not relent, and an apology will not work. They will either make you pay (usually for a negotiated settlement price), or will take you to court where the judge will make you pay.


My understanding is that the new web robot pixel-matching technology came out in January of 2013.


So, my advice is never to use Google Images on your website, blog, business Facebook page or any other public website. I’m at the point where I don’t even search Google Images anymore. I see it as a trap. And if you want my opinion, I think Google bates people by offering images in this way – it’s very misleading and good people fall into the trap.


In general, I recommend you never post any image that you did not personally purchase (and can prove your purchase), even if it is not from Google Images. If you don't know where an image came from, don't post it. It's best to error on the safe side. I've seen too many of our nice customers fall prey to this trap and I hope this article helps prevent others from an innocent mistake.



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