A long, long time ago, when I was first starting out blogging for small business owners, I was less knowledgable about copyright on images and naively downloaded one from Google for a client’s blog post ...
To be fair, I had looked at the usage settings and it told me it was free to use and modify without attribution so as my client had asked for something pretty unique, a search on Google found an image I liked and it was the right size so I downloaded and used it.
It turned out that the photographer put their entire library onto a stock photo website and the website owners were performing an automated scan for image usage, which you can do easily via the Google API. The image had be flagged up on my client's blog post and they had emailed them demanding a four figure settlement for copyright infringement.
My client contacted me in a panic and I went back to the image on Google and the usage policy had changed! No longer was it free to use and modify without attribution. It had become an image that needed payment to use it, so my client was in hot water with a bill to pay and I felt totally guilty.
I spoke to them and suggested that they contact the stock library and explain that at the time the image was originally used, Google claimed a free to use and modify policy. They did, and got the bill dramatically reduced, though the stock library refused to withdraw the claim because the published blog post had many shares and comments so they said my client had benefited from its usage.
Always use a legitimate stock library to get your images from. There are many out there, some free, some paid for. Just to be sure, attribute the photographer and link back to their profile on the library (like I've done above). Yes, you may have to pay for the images, but the peace of mind about not being hit with an invoice for copyright infringement far outweighs the costs of the actual image itself.
Trust me, I never downloaded and used an image from Google ever again.
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