One More Time - Stop Using Google Images for Post Pics

Services for Real Estate Pros with Personal SEO - Website SEO and Real Estate Marketing

Inevitably, I get an email about once per month with a panicked statement from an associate, past client or friend about a lawyer requiring them to stop using a copyrighted photo in their blog post. Either in past posts or pages or even current ones, the owner of the blog has used an image they had no authority using. They panic and have no idea what to do.  

You may have even experienced it yourself. I hear about a lot of you that say, this guy is using my photo for his cover header, or this person used my photo on their blog.  One more time folks


Find images for posts

I've probably talked about this before but it demands reiteration. It's just happening too much! Do you really want to risk a $5000 lawsuit for a simple image of a comic because it fit with the topic in the post?  It's just not worth it. 

Now, I don't care if my kid uses an image he found online for a quick personal printout for school or something that no one else will see but our household, but if it's out there for the world to see and especially if it's commercial in any way,  you cannot use it! PERIOD. 


What do you do if you get one of these emails or letters?

Lawyer letterIf ANYONE questions where you got the image or if they say you have used their image without their permission, just take it down. It's a picture, for crying out loud. It's not worth it. Immediately remove it, UNLESS you are positive YOU took the image or that you obtained it legally. (Honestly, unless you can prove you took the image yourself, I would just remove it rather than fight it.)

IF you get a legal letter requiring you to pay for the photo, take it down immediately. AND it all depends on how much they're asking for. I've seen emails where they've asked for $10 and others where they have asked for $5000. I AM NOT A LAWYER, so I cannot give any legal advice, but I can give my opinion and experience. Sometimes being nice really can work. If you remove the image right away, many times they will go away. I've known some agents that just remove the image and then don't respond to any other emails and eventually they go away. I've known some agents that pay a couple hundred bucks and drop the issue. But, don't count on it. If you've used an image without permission or even without attribution, you could be in trouble.


What's Attribution?

Attribution is like accreditation. You are giving credit to the person that actually took the image. You may be able to use the image according to their license but you must give credit where credit is due, and YES, they can come back at you if you miss that little attribution. See below...  If you use the image, you have to put the Attribution on the same page.


There are a lot of similar sites out there but it's important to verify they allow use for commercial posts and pages. 


Where to find images?

Stay FAR away from Getty Images. They have free embed images for blog posts but they are kind of wonky and require you to use their photo the way they want you to display it... In my opinion, it's just too difficult and risky.

There are a few great sites out there for free and paid. 

  • - Great site for developing images with text and design (most images are $1)
  • - Paid site where clear, crisp, high-quality images can be up to $15 each
  • - Where we usually find high-quality cover and header images for $15 each
  • Unsplash - Free for commercial use
  • - New site, free stock photos
  • - Free site with no attribution
  • - Free site and they offer a plugin for Wordpress sites so you can search their site, right in the back end of your own!
  • - very few public domain (free) images, most are with attribution
  • - Be cautious. There are some great images here for attribution but most are copyrighted, HOWEVER, I have emailed the photographer and asked for permission for commercial use. I have only gotten one 'no'. I keep the email to prove I have permission and send the artist the link. If you use one with attribution, make sure you give appropriate credit. 
  • - this site searches all known CC images but be aware that they do not assume responsibility for the images, it is still up to you to verify you have permission to use them:

"Please note that is not a search engine, but rather offers convenient access to search services provided by other independent organizations. CC has no control over the results that are returned. Do not assume that the results displayed in this search portal are under a CC license. You should always verify that the work is actually under a CC license by following the link. Since there is no registration to use a CC license, CC has no way to determine what has and hasn't been placed under the terms of a CC license. If you are in doubt you should contact the copyright holder directly, or try to contact the site where you found the content."

But if you really want to always steer clear of any issues, just take the photo yourself. I know that's hard to do but I have done it multiple times because I can't find any image that works. You know no one is coming back at you for your own image.

I'm sure I will get some flack on here and this brings up a controversial topic for sure, but I'm trying to save you some serious stress. There's nothing like getting an email accusing you of copyright violation and a $5000 (or more) bill to go along with it. 

Read More: More about Wiki Commons Images

What NOT to Do in SEO

Wiki image By Visitor7 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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ActiveRain and SEOTammy Emineth is an expert in custom content and original articles for blogs, website, press releases and more. Contact me anytime and feel free to subscribe to this blog to stay up to date on my latest blogs and informative information. Email me or contact me for Real Estate Website Marketing and SEO Content Writing.

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Re-Blogged 2 times:

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Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Tammy- what a good reminder!  There have been posts written here about receiving that dreaded letter. 

Oct 27, 2017 11:59 AM #55
Betsy N. Robinson - Serving the Sandhills, NC
Everything Pines Partners, LLC. - Whispering Pines, NC

Thanks for the list, Tammy.  Nothing is worth the hassle of  law suit or a $5,000 fine, particularly when there are free sources that will do the trick includiing your own.

Oct 27, 2017 01:49 PM #56
Tina D Saporito, Your Dedicated Palm Desert, CA Realtor Since 2005
Ronald Christopher & Associates. Proudly serving Palm Desert, La Quinta, Indio, Rancho Mirage, & Palm Springs. - Palm Desert, CA
Call (760)799-8460.

Thanks for sharing Tammy. Just the other day I was trying to find a site where I could get images to use so this information came in very handy!

Oct 27, 2017 02:50 PM #57
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Thank you for the information about some sites for free photos. I will bookmark this post.

Oct 28, 2017 03:37 AM #58
Nathan Gesner
American West Realty & Management - Cody, WY
Broker / Property Manager

Great article, Tammy. I've also learned you can conduct an image search on Google and then go to TOOLS > USAGE RIGHTS and change the settings to search only for images free to use.

Oct 28, 2017 07:46 AM #59
Kathleen Daniels
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
San Jose Homes for Sale-Probate & Trust Specialist

Tammy,  Another great informative post.  I did not know that Pixabay has a WordPress plugin.  Thank you.

Oct 28, 2017 04:08 PM #60
Gary L. Waters, Broker Owner, Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC
Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC - Rockledge, FL
... a small office, delivering big service!

Great advice. I really like that unsplash web site.  Nice photos and actually free.Thanks!

Oct 29, 2017 08:03 AM #61
Dan Derito
Success! Real Estate - Brockton, MA

Great post Tammy.  There are too many sites that are free, or inexpensive, to get photos from.  Why ask for trouble by using an image that requires permission?

Oct 29, 2017 04:44 PM #62
Dörte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Tammy,

Good reminder.

Oct 29, 2017 07:45 PM #63
Brenda Whitman, Live in Laramie Real Estate
Live in Laramie Real Estate, Laramie, Wyoming - Laramie, WY
Broker/Co-Owner, Laramie, Wyoming

Fabulous post, Tammy Emineth!  I subscribe to one image download website and other than that I make sure every photo in every post is a photo I myself have taken.  The images may not be perfect but at least they are mine to use as I wish...

Oct 29, 2017 08:46 PM #64
Thomas J. Nelson, Realtor, ePRO, CRS, RCS-D
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

Tammy, great reminder and topic for a re-blog.

QUESTION: This rule does or doesn't apply to Facebook? We can use any photos we want in social media vs. a blog?

Oct 30, 2017 06:32 AM #65
Pat Starnes, Brandon, MS
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
Front Gate Realty ~ 601-991-2900 Office

I like to use Free Digital Photos with attribution. Thanks for sharing this information again because I frequently see posts and wonder where those photos came from.

Oct 30, 2017 12:14 PM #66
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Great information as always.  I end up taking a lot of my own photos and Canva comes in handy!

Oct 30, 2017 09:18 PM #67
Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers
BVO Luxury Group @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty - Scottsdale, AZ
Serving Scottsdale, Phoenix and Maricopa County AZ

Tammy Emineth "...if it's out there for the world to see and especially if it's commercial in any way,  you cannot use it! PERIOD. "

Right on target - and - re-blog!

Nov 03, 2017 03:58 AM #70
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Tammy. I think you are right, it's a picture but if it's your picture is is special.

Nov 03, 2017 07:27 AM #71
Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI
Realty National - Carlsbad, CA
Presence, Persistence & Perseverance

Tammy Emineth Always a welcomed sight to see an informative post from you. <Bookmarked>! Thanks!

Nov 03, 2017 08:30 AM #72
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

This is a great reminder.   Like everyone else, I've bookmarked this important post. 

Nov 03, 2017 11:15 PM #73
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Good reminder, Tammy.  I know a number of people that got notifications from Getty Images for copyright misuse of their photos.

Dec 05, 2017 05:17 PM #74
Ricardo Mello
Manhattan Miami Real Estate - Manhattan, NY
Manhattan & Miami Real Estate Broker

Getty or Shutterstock

May 27, 2018 10:23 AM #75
Barbara Tattersall
Keller Williams Realty Metropolitan (Keene,NH) - Keene, NH

Very informative, especially for those of us who didn't k ow some of those web sites existed! Thank you.


Jun 13, 2018 02:42 AM #76
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