You’ve created an amazing e-learning course and all you have to do now is add some images. Easy right? You just Google for images to match the content on the slides and add them to your course. Well, no. You have to assume that all images you find on the internet are copyright unless it clearly states otherwise. You are not free to download and use any image you happen to stumble across. If the site where you found the image doesn’t mention anything about licensing, you will need to seek permission from the owner of the image if you want to use it - and check that they own the copyright of the image.
In fact Google has made it a little harder to download images recently by removing the ‘View image’ button. It’s also added ‘images may be subject to copyright’ under every image as a reminder to users not to inadvertently fall foul of copyright laws.
However, all is not lost as Google provides a method of finding copyright free images. When you’ve searched for an image, click on the ‘Tools’ button under the right-hand edge of the search bar. This brings up a ‘Usage rights’ button. Click on the arrow to the right of the button and select one of the options. Select ‘Labeled for reuse’ if you don’t want any restrictions. The images that appear when you’ve done this can be used in your course.
Google isn’t the only source of free images. There are lots of sites that claim to offer free images, but be careful as not all of them can be used without restriction. You need to check the license details of anything you want to use. You may also find that the free image sites offer a large choice of other images that look sharper and might be more appropriate. However, when you click on them they won’t be free and are often linked to subscription sites.
An image may be marked ‘for personal use only’. This means that you can use it in your home for yourself but it cannot be used commercially. You can’t use it in your training, unless you are creating a fire safety course for your Auntie Ethel.
Some images might say something like ‘usable with attribution’ or ‘usable with link back’. Attribution means that you must add the website or copyright holder’s name under or near the image. Link back, means you must include a hyperlink to the website where the image came from.
You may have seen the term Creative Commons connected with images. A Creative Commons license is used when the author of the work wants to give people the right to use an image that would otherwise by copyright. There are several different types of Creative Commons license, ranging from attribution required and banning commercial use to Creative Commons CC0 which allows you to use the image however you want.
Some image sharing sites can be searched based on license. For instance Flickr images are copyright of the author but they do give you the opportunity to find images that are copyright free under different license types.
Here are a few sites that offer free unrestricted use of their images:
Of course, if you can’t find what you’re looking for and don’t want to pay for an image, you can always create your own!
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