No Such Thing as a FREE Lunch
What’s the saying: There is no such thing as a FREE lunch!  How true! The other day was the day I truly paid for my FREE lunch!! £199 to be exact!

A while ago I wrote a new blog but needed an image to go with it, so I went to the internet to find one.  I put ‘FREE IMAGES WORKING FROM HOME’ (Working from Home was the title of my blog), on Google search. Up sprang some great images which were perfect to accompany my article.

In my mind, if an image has a copyright /watermark on it, you obviously cannot use it without express permission of the originator or without buying the usage licence and paying a fee. However, the one that I chose came up in the search FREE, so assumed it was OK. Bearing in mind I specifically put my criteria as FREE images, on the search engine.

A Letter in the Post!
I recently received a letter from Getty Images (Photo Stock Library). It stated that I was using an image without permission and could I provide my licence information otherwise they would be fining me (at this time it was a month that I’d had it on my website). They took a screen shot as evidence, to state that even if I’d removed it, it did not alter the fact I’d used it without permission. I wrote back and told them I’d only had it up for a month! From this they worked out the cost based on one month use. It worked out at £199.

Although I explained my position and how I had mis-understood that it was free usage (along with proof of how I found it on a Google search), I was sent this statement:

Your email states that you have obtained the image via Google. As you are aware, Google is a search engine that is designed to find anything that fits your search description, not an image licensing company.  Google twice warns the user about the copyright that exists in the images.  First, once an image is located and clicked on, Google warns the user that the image may be protected by copyright.  Second, on the Frequently Asked Questions page (, Google states:

 “I found an image on Google Image Search that I want to use. Do I need permission to use it?”

Yes, you do need permission in order to use it. However, Google does not own the images found via Google Search. You must contact the owner of the image (typically whoever first posted the image on the web) and obtain his/her permission in order to use it.                                                                                                                                             

Google twice put the user on notice that the images may be protected by copyright and you will need to obtain permission for use. Therefore, your claim that you were unaware of copyright and “would not knowingly use copyrighted material illegally” fails.

In case this is helpful, I am sharing this copyright education video that we have created to help educate people about how to license content correctly

Their compliance department sent me a final request to pay. I missed the deadline by one day and when I entered my reference to pay, was shocked that the amount on the payment gateway was now stating £1100 plus VAT. The full amount due!

I spoke to them again and they honoured the price of £199.

Be warned…Only ever use photo libraries for sourcing your blog or website photo’s. DO NOT take them off the internet; you never know if they are truly FREE!

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