What pictures can I use from the Internet?

Brief guideline to understand copyright on images and proper use of images from the Internet

In an era where everything is as close as a click, it is sometimes difficult to find out what you can and cannot use from the Internet.

Well, let’s try to clarify.

How do you deal with copyright and pictures from the Internet?

First thing you need to know before using an image that you did not create yourself is that, generally speaking, all of them are protected by some form of copyright .

Nothing unexpected, right?

However, this might get more complicated when they come from online sources. Websites can actually restrict the use of the images they provide. But we’ll get back to that.

First things first, one factor that you want to be

First things first, one factor that you want to be aware of is related to this symbol: ©. Looks familiar?

It is the symbol or sign for copyright, and it’s used to notify that works are protected by it.

However, truth is, it doesn’t necessarily have to be present in the picture’s information in order for the image to be protected. Although it will always be somehow associated with the image’s metadata. So be careful when downloading images from the internet and examine whether you can actually use the image for the intended purpose.

Okay, but how do I do that?


Privacy Is Priority –

The privacy of user data is the supreme priority of our website. We understand that users are reluctant to use online image tools like reverse image search due to the fear of losing important data. Therefore, our developers have designed this website in a way that its servers don’t save the uploaded images. As the process is completed and results are displayed on the user’s screen, the uploaded image automatically gets removed from our servers. We are providing users with the safest platform to conduct a photo search. For more information, you can visit our privacy policy.

How to cite pictures in research papers / project reports?

Based upon the academic discipline involved, there are four acceptable standards when it comes to citation of pictures in research papers or project reports:

  1. MLA (Modern Language Association)
  2. APA (American Psychological Association)
  3. Chicago
  4. Harvard

You can choose either of the formats depending upon the genre of your research work. For example, if your research paper is more into language/literature, choose ‘MLA’. If the work is related to Education, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, choose ‘APA’. If it’s related to business, history or arts, choose ‘Chicago’. Choose ‘Harvard’ if your work is related to social science or humanities. Here is a good resource on Empire State College website which talks about the various citation styles and their appropriate usage.

Format to cite pictures in MLA format? (8th Edition)

Author Name (first, last); “Title”; Container, date, URL; medium (if applicable). 

Format to cite pictures in APA format? (6th Edition) Author Name (first, last), Title of Work, date of creation or completion, medium, Name of Institution, location (if applicable), URL.

Format to cite pictures in Chicago format?

Last, First Name, Photograph Title. Month Date, Year Created. Collection, Museum/Institution, Location. URL.

Format to cite pictures in Harvard format? Author Name, date the image was created, Photo Title, format, date viewed, <URL>.

Now let’s see the implementation of the above formats with an example. This is a picture of an Audi branded car published on the Flickr website by the photographer – Mr. Josh Sniffen.

Here is how you will cite this image in the various formats that I’ve discussed above:

Types of copyright license

To know if you can use images found on the internet or not, here are the different licenses(2):

  • Copyright: this is the most restrictive license and it is the default one if a creator does not select another. Basically, whoever wants to use an image with Copyright must both ask for permission and pay to the author.
  • Copyleft: was created in the early 80s as the license opposite to Copyright. It aims to guarantee every user’s right to use, modify and redistribute a product or image. Of course, this use should always stick to the usage and dissemination conditions.
  • Creative Commons (CC): It allows creators to decide which rights they would like to retain and which to transfer to others. However, keep in mind that even if a work has this license ,it can also have Copyright . Since CC is the most common one on the internet, here we briefly mention its conditions (3):
    • An author willing to have a CC license has to choose which rights he/she would like others to have over it. These being attribution, non-commercial, no derivative works and share alike.
    • The image should always include the acronym CC + “Some Rights Reserved”. If it’s online, it should link to the Common Deed, which are the specific conditions of the license.
    • Another possibility is that the author decides not to retain any rights. This is known as CC0 “No Rights Reserved”, so it will be part of the public domain.

OK, now we have the different licences in place. But you might be thinking:

Which licences do the various image platforms have? What are the restrictions?

Play games

Games are another popular thing to do with your computer no matter what your age is. Below is a listing of different games for different age groups.

  • Children learning games – There are hundreds of games for young children (12 and younger) that are not only enjoyable to play but often also educational.
  • Teenager and older games – By far the most popular games, the games that are often played for entertainment value.
  • Learning games – Numerous learning games for all people and all age groups. For example, many flight simulators are available that help users learn to fly, and at the same time are really enjoyable.
  • Online games – Users who have access to the Internet also have access to millions of free online games sites, like MSN games. Online game sites feature hundreds of games you can play against other Internet users from around the world.

Is It Legal to Use to Use Pictures From Pinterest?

Pinterest has a non-exclusive, transferable worldwide license for the content on the site. This means that any content posted there can be shared and saved by others. This applies to Pinterest only; it does not mean you can take content from there and post it somewhere else. Unless you are certain the image can shared (like if you have permission from the owner or if it is in public domain), you should avoid sharing the image outside of the site.

What exactly is copyright law?

Copyright essentially protects any original work of authorship. This can be any type of artistic expression. If you have created something an have expressed in a fixed form, you automatically have ownership rights under copyright law. While you don not necessarily have to take any steps to own a copyright, you do need to register a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office to able to sue for copyright infringement, which is when someone steals your work.

Image Finder for All Operating Systems

This image finder doesn’t require to be installed on your devices. This image lookup can be accessed through any operating system.

Precautions to Take Before You Pin

  • Be careful what you repin. Click on it to check out the link yourself to make sure it is okay. Don't assume that the original pinner did their proper homework. Report violations (especially spam) that you see to keep the site legal and to help maintain Pinterest's good reputation.
  • Fair use can be a bit sketchy, and no one seems to agree about what is allowed and what isn't. This includes book covers, movie posters, and pictures of celebrities. You are probably better off if you avoid sharing those types of images.
  • If there are no "Pin it" buttons, and especially if there are no other social media sharing buttons, then assume you don't have the owner's permission to pin it.
  • If it is something you really want to pin and aren't sure about, then ask for permission. The worst that could happen is that you get a no.

Bottom Line

No matter what type of website you are creating, images are very important.  Ensure when you are placing images on your site that you have the proper copyright permission.  Without this permission, you could be looking at a lawsuit which is surely not your intention!

Use your spreadsheet

Some of today’s computers also include a spreadsheet program. Below are some of the things you could do in a spreadsheet program.

  • Create a listing of numerical values. For example, you can create an electronic version of your checking or savings account, allowing you to see the total amount in each account.
  • Create a listing of statistics, for example, Computer Hope keeps statistics of how many users visit its pages. These statistics can be viewed to see an increase or decrease in values.
  • Create a listing of contact information or other information that can be sorted and viewed by different columns.

Dont Make this Mistake, Get Your Images Legally

Now that you have realized that you should not obtain images illegally online, you are probably thinking of how you are going to find images for your new website.  There are actually a number of different ways that you can obtain images for your website.

Some of these options require that you be more creative, while others allow you to throw a few dollars at the problem to obtain the images that you need.

Red X’s on some sites

If you’re seeing red X’s in place of images on only some sites, it’s more typically either a problem fetching the image, or a website design issue.

Download problems can be caused by adblockers, security software, or even filters at your ISP. You’ll want to check each of those in case they’re getting in the way.

The most common website issue is when images are removed from wherever they are hosted. For example, the image to the right is hosted on a domain different than the primary Ask Leo! domain (askleo.com):


If that file were removed, or that domain inaccessible, a red X would result.

Similarly, if I had mistyped the reference to that image, perhaps getting the domain, path, or filename wrong, then a red X would result.

What was once a common mistake was for a website to reference a picture by a path local to the designer’s machine. It might reference “c:picturesimage.jpg”, rather than a proper URL, such as “https://example.com/image.jpg”. To the designer, it works, because there is a “c:picturesimage.jpg” that their browser picks up when displaying the page for them. To the rest of us, it’s another red X. Fortunately, this seems to be rare these days.

Your comments/feedback?

I hope that this post was useful to you. If you enjoyed reading it, please share it. It will make my day! Should you have any doubt/query regarding this post, please don’t hesitate to comment below.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Go up