When you’re looking for pictures to illustrate or enhance your academic work, how do you search? Do you ‘copy and paste’ from the internet, as a student recently told me? Or simply type your search term in that old reliable, Google?
Unless you’re careful, searching like this can contravene copyright law and potentially get you into legal trouble. Whenever you find an image through a regular Google search, there’s a good chance that it either:
- has a license which forbids you to use it, or
- has no license at all
Assuming that you didn’t ask for prior permission to use the content, it’s illegal to use it if either of these two cases applies.
Fortunately, there are various ways to search for images that are OK to use in your academic work, for presentations and in your professional life. Here are the two simplest ones.
- If you want to use Google, here’s how to search for pictures on Google the legal way:
- Go to Google and type in your search term.
- Do an image search.
- Click Tools
- Click Usage Rights
- Select ‘licenced for reuse’
- All the pictures that display are fine for you to use.
2) Another option is to use the inbuilt creative commons image search within Microsoft Word and PowerPoint (in versions 2013 and 2016). From within your document, go to the ‘Insert’ menu on the ribbon and select ‘Online Pictures’.
This will take you to a Bing search engine which will return Creative Commons (ie safe to use) images for you.
Sometimes, the results from Google and Microsoft alone may be disappointing. Next time: some alternative safe search engines for pictures that will give you brilliant results.