Google Images Search Filters Usage Rights

Google Images Search Filters Usage RightsYou can easily use the Google Images Search Filters to find images specifically tagged for commercial, non-commercial and other categories of  “usage rights.”  It’s illegal to use images you can lift from websites if they are copyrighted!  Many people are doing this illegally and don’t even know they are breaking the law. They think it’s OK because it is so commonly done.  But owners of images published online are cracking down more frequently, particularly companies like Getty Images.  You can be billed for posting an image on your website that Getty owns whether you knew you were violating a copyright or not!

Google Images Search Filters Show Usage Rights

Google has been offering information about usage rights on images from their advanced tools for several years. But now you can filter images directly from the Google images search bar!  You are still responsible for checking on the validity of the usage permissions indicated, and you still might have to provide attribution from images that you use. But this new filter feature certainly makes the process easier.

How to use Google Images Search Filters

  • Type in your search for an image using keywords at the Google Images search page, or just use Google’s default search page and then filter the results by image. You can also filter for size. Notice that it also works for videos!
  • Select the Search tools menu and then bring up the dropdown menu for “Usage Rights.” That menu displays several choices: “Not filtered by license”, “Labeled for reuse”, “Labeled for commercial reuse”, “Labeled for reuse with modification”, and finally “Labeled for commercial reuse with modification.” Click on the option you are interested in using, and the page will refresh to show only images that conform to your choice.

The images displayed in this kind of Google images search are generally licensed by GNU Free Documentation, Creative Commons, or already available for free and unfettered usage in the public domain. The “labeled for reuse” category permits usage of the  image for non-commercial purposes – but you should check on specific limitations and requirements listed in the license rules for the image you want to use. The “labeled for commercial reuse” allows commercial usage. The “reuse with modification” category is available for people who want to alter the image before they republish it. In all cases, you should check on the page where the image resides to find out if you need to attribute the source (which is always a polite thing to do whether or not you are required to do so.)

Don’t forget that if you decide to use an image found in the Google images search filter (or from anywhere else) it’s always courteous to attribute the source of an image under any circumstances and that contacting the owner about your intention to republish their image might even result in a beneficial link exchange for both of you!

google images tagged reuse