Thursday, May 26, 2011

PowerPoint Tip: Why You Shouldn’t Use Google Images to Find Photos

In my workshops, whenever I speak about using photos in a presentation, someone always asks about Google Images. It is so easy to find pictures using the image search function of Google, why don’t I recommend it? Because in almost every case, it is more risky than presenters could imagine. Why? Because photos are copyrighted and you can’t use them without permission. Let me share with you one of two examples I shared in my webinar in March to illustrate the risks.

An advertising firm was creating a blog post for a client. They needed a photo, so they did a web search and found one that would work perfectly. The blog post got uploaded to the client site and everything was fine. Until their client received a letter from a lawyer informing them of the copyright infringement. The client was not happy. It ended up costing the advertising firm $4,000 to settle the case when they could have purchased a photo for around $10. If you want to read the whole story, click here.

If you believe that you will never get caught because your presentation isn’t on the web or not that many people will see it, this example should change your thinking. You never know if an audience member will recognize the photo and tell their relative or friend about it. You may not post your presentation to the web, but someone you send it to might. In today’s connected world, you are fooling yourself if you think no one will ever find out.

And there is no need to take these risks when there are so many great sources of photos you can use legally. Microsoft makes tens of thousands of photos available for your use in presentations and you can search this library from within PowerPoint. Stock photography sites sell professional photos for very reasonable prices, as low as $7-8 for a photo that can be easily used in a presentation. And some photo sharing sites allow their members to grant a license to use the photo in commercial presentations.

With so many ways to stay legal, why take the risk of using Google Images to find a photo for your presentation? If you’d like to learn more about finding and using photos in your presentation, including specific sites and techniques for finding great photos legally, check out the recording of the webinar I did in March, just click here for all the details.


Blogger nickomundo said...

Great comments, and so needed. I can't tell you how often I see pirated imagery in presentations. Thanks for this post. I'm sure I'll be referring people to it a lot in the future.

3:24 PM  
Blogger Olivia Mitchell said...

Hi Dave
I agree totally about the dangers of using random images from a Google search. But now in Google Images under "Advanced Search" you can filter your results according to the usage rights of each image.

3:50 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Great tip Olivia. The big problem is that it relies on the content owner setting the license type on every image, which I doubt many people know how to do or take the time to do.

5:39 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


I've been using Google's advanced search to find great images that are acceptable for use under the creative commons license.

Unlike Dave, I totally recommend using this feature! I always give attribution to the photographer, which has opened up lines of communication. I've not only found terrific photos, but writing a quick thank you and giving attribution on the slide or in a blog post helps build relationships with some great artists!

Further, a few audience members approached me after a presentation to get the name of the artist. Giving credit where credit is due can do so much more to build a community and conversation than simply using a nameless stock photo.

I highly recommend using Google Images to find photos & build relationships with photographers.

3:11 PM  
Blogger Fred E.Miller said...

Pretty much like someone copying and pasting your posts and calling them "original" isn't it?

Thanks for the Post, Dave!

5:11 PM  

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