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Digital Media - Using Google Images: Home

Introduction to the use of images found on the Web.


This guide was created for Design and Media Production Technology students specifically to demonstrate how to use Google Images and not violate copyright laws, and to supply a select list of on line resources with images that are free to use. This guide is meant to supplement our Copyright Tutorial Find Images That Can Be Used Legally  Reviewing that first will help you understand how Creative Commons and Copyright laws complement each other.

An important takeaway from both:

Whether images come from the Internet, a database, or other resource, it's your responsibility to determine when, where and how they may be legally and ethically used.


Google Image Search

Google Image Search is quick and easy to use, and more often than not you can find the image you're looking for without too much effort. But, as a professional, before you copy and paste, you will need to check the Usage Rights:


You type in a search like “U.S Capitol Building.” A lot of images appear. At first glance, you won’t see any indication of any restrictions or requirements for using one of these images. But they’re there.

Referring to print-screen image below:

  1. Enter your search term into the Google Images search bar.
  2. Click on “Tools”
  3. Choose “Creative Commons Licenses” from “Usage Rights” drop down menu                            Display of usage rights using Google ImagesNext:

  1. Upon clicking CCL on drop down, a small square box will appear in the lower left corner of the image. Click on it to reveal a split pane that has the “License Details”
  2. Click on an image to see more detail and then click on Visit. This will show the image on its original website. By viewing the image’s original website, you can make sure that the image is legitimate and that it has been licensed correctly. It is important that you check the terms of the licensee to make sure that the licensee is legitimate as sometimes people will take an image from another website and make it available on their own site under Creative Commons.


    • Items obtained from the web or scanned from a print source should be attributed to the owner of the copyrighted work.
    • This includes photographs, paintings, or other works of art, tables, graphs, and other illustrations from primary or secondary source materials.
    • Most images from royalty free clip art, such as the clip art available from Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, do not need to be cited. Check carefully to make certain what attribution and/or citation requirements are listed for individual images.


As a general rule, the following elements are needed in the citation: 

    • artist's name, if known
    • title of image, if known (Optional if using 4.0 version.)
    • institution where held, if known
    • URL, if applicable (hyperlink for ease in getting to the website for the artist, museum owner of the work, etc.)
    • Applicable License (Creative Commons, public domain, etc.)


Best Practices:



Download the handout for Creative Commons licenses:


(See next page for list of sources offering images free for use.)

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