Is it legal to use photos from Google search in marketing?

The short answer is no, you cannot use random images that you find on Google for your marketing materials and online presence marketing. But, there are plenty of other free options available to you. In this article we’ll discuss those alternative options and how to find free images that you can use in your marketing. So, let’s jump right in.

What You Need to Know About Using Stock Photos and Videos for Marketing

As a small business owner, you understand just how important it is to have an online presence that reflects how awesome you are as a business. 

But, let’s be honest – you don’t have time to take every single photo that you need for your website, for social media, for promotional flyers, for postcards, and for emails.

Luckily, there is a way to have a beautiful online presence and on brand promotional materials without having to turn into a full fledged photographer in addition to the many other hats you wear. 

That’s why I put together this comprehensive list of 100 websites that provide free to use stock photos and videos. Make good use of it!

But, here’s the thing. I want to make sure you also understand the legalities of stock photos and videos and why you will want to use some, and completely avoid others.

Creative Commons License

What is a Creative Commons License? 

The official answer from the Creative Commons organization is that the “licenses give everyone from individual creators to large institutions a standardized way to grant the public permission to use their creative work under copyright law.”

In short, it tells you what you can and cannot do with an artist’s work. 

What are the different types of Creative Commons Licenses?

There are 6 types of licenses under Creative Commons, but all of these license types have some types of restrictions in the way that you can use the photos and videos. The best free stock photos and videos are Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0) files. This means that the artist has given up their copyrights so that you can use the image or video however you see fit with no attribution. That is the absolute best type of stock photo and video to use for marketing. 

Photos and Videos Found On Google and Other Search Engines

Why You Should Not Use Photos and Videos found in Search Engine Results

Since you’re reading this, I think you know not to use photos and videos that you find in Google search and any other search engine’s results. But, just in case you are wondering the real, legal reason behind why that is a horrible idea, I thought I’d share this with you. 

The reason why you want to avoid using search engine photos at all cost is because:

  • You have no idea if the model released rights (assuming there is a person in the picture).
  • You have no idea who actually owns the photo/video and no idea if the original artist has given up his/her copyrights.

A mistake, honest or not, on either one of these, and it may cost you your business. Don’t fall for that trap. Take the time to use the list included with this that I put together just for you. 

So, in summary – when looking for stock photos and videos to market your business, either use the list provided or be sure to follow the guidance above. 

It is important that I note this information is in no way meant to serve as legal advice. For legal advice, please consult a qualified attorney. 

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