Google and other search engines are working tirelessly to index all websites and blogs to help online users find the right information. Problem is, they have made it easy for online users to copy and download copyrighted materials such as photos. As such, it is common to find one photo on hundreds or even thousands of websites. This makes the photo less appealing. To avoid potential lawsuits and DMCA takedown, it is important to know whether an image is copyrighted or not.
Here are 4 easiest ways to tell if an image is copyrighted.
#1. Check for common characteristics
As you search online for a photo to use in your presentation or to accompany your content on your blog, there are a few characteristics you can rely on to know if an image is copyrighted. One such characteristic is the watermark.
You probably have noticed an overlay of a logo or text on a photo. That is a watermark. It shows that the picture is protected and cannot be used without the owner’s approval. Another characteristic to check for is the copyright notice. All copyrighted images carry a copyright notice which may be indicated with a copyright symbol.
#2.Reverse search the photo
As said earlier, Google and other search engines have worked hard to index websites and blogs available on the internet. While doing so, the bots also index the images - copyrighted and royalty free photos. This means when searching for information, you can find millions or billions of photos that match the content.
While this has made it easier for online users to download copyrighted images, it has also made it easier for online users to know if an image is copyrighted or not. To reverse search a photo, navigate to Google images and simply upload or drag and drop the image in the search box. In seconds, you should have the results. If the image is copyrighted, you will also learn who the primary poster is. Tineye is another reverse image search website you can use.
#3. Ask the original poster
A lot of images you find online today have been posted by someone. Whether they shared the image on their website or third party platform, that image was posted by someone. To find out if the image is copyrighted or not, simply ask the original poster.
How do you find the original poster? You can reverse search the image using Google Images or Tineye. From the results, look for the image with a copyright notice or the word copyright. Besides these details, you should find the date of the first publication and the name of the copyright owner.
It is important to know that this is not easy as you have to go through millions of images. Once you find the name of the copyright holder, seek their permission. A few users will probably give you permission if the image is for personal use but if it’s for commercial use, they may decline.
#4.Search using the United States Copyright office online catalog
The Copyright Office has made available an online catalog where you can search and access their database to find out if an image is copyrighted or not. To get started, simply navigate to the website and enter the title or keyword into the search box.
For works registered before 1978, they can be found in the Copyright Public Records Reading Room.
As a website or blog owner, it is important to avoid infringing on the copyright of others. If you need a legal photo without breaking any law, there are websites that host images with creative commons licenses. Such websites include Photo Pin, Free Digital Photos, Ancestry Images, Stock Vault, Public Domain Photos, and Stock.xchng.