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Can I use images from Google without getting in trouble for copyright infringement?

Question | Copyright & Fair Use
I want to use a pic of Kanye I found on Google for my article in the school newspaper. The article isn’t about Kanye, but about T-Swift and her feuds with other celebs. My teacher thinks this might be copyright infringement. Can I use the pic?

Using a picture of Kanye as a student journalist in your school newspaper will probably be considered fair use for an educational purpose and not be copyright infringement. Fair use is pretty great because it allows you to use a picture that someone else took without having to get their permission. Fair use also applies to videos, songs, and all other copyrighted works. Without fair use, we’d probably all be stuck paying just to retweet our favorite grumpy cat memes (a scary thought, we know). Fair use doesn’t apply to every situation, though, and you may run into some trouble if you aren’t using the picture for certain purposes.

If you’re using the picture for:

  • criticism
  • comment
  • news
  • reporting
  • education
  • scholarship OR
  • research

You’re not infringing!

We should note that fair use applies to more than just pictures of Kanye, and you can use practically all copyrighted works (videos, songs, lyrics, quotes from books, etc) without infringing the copyright owner’s rights, as long as the use falls within the categories listed above. Out of all the above situations, educational and news purposes are the most common fair uses of copyrighted works.

In your situation, because you’re using Kanye’s picture for a story in the school newspaper, this would likely be considered an educational purpose that falls within fair use. It’s an educational purpose because the newspaper class is part of the school curriculum, you get a grade for the class, etc. BUT, be careful if you’re using copyrighted material on your own personal blog, Instagram, or other social media account and not in your role as a student journalist. For example, if you were to pull a copyrighted picture of Kanye off the internet and post it to your own blog site, instead of using it for your article in the school newspaper, it would no longer be an educational purpose, and would most likely be copyright infringement.


As it turns out, the easiest way to find photos without copyright restrictions is… you guessed it, the Google machine! By using Google Images and the Advanced Image Search tool, you can search photos with varying degrees of copyright restrictions. Just type in the key words of your search, select Tools, and then go to the Usage rights drop-down menu. This menu allows you to filter out photos with copyright restrictions. If you want to pull a picture straight from the internet and use it on your blog or personal social media without making any modifications, you’ll want to select the “labeled for reuse” option. After you’ve made the filter selection, hit search, and boom – only images safe for reuse will appear in the results. Honestly, is there anything Google can’t do? 

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