Can You Use Any Clipart Image You Find on the Web?

How many of you go searching online when you need clipart or images for your blog articles, websites, business cards or other marketing materials?  Do you pull images from Google images or other online sites?

One of my clients had done this in the past… pulled an appropriate image that went with their blog post and added it as the featured image.  Imagine their surprise when they received a letter this week from one of the large online image retailers identifying the image as belonging to that company and demanding payment for its use.  They are lucky that’s all the letter demanded.

Most people use images from any online source they can find without thinking twice about it.  They either don’t know that they could very well be breaking copyright laws or maybe they just think that they will never be caught.  Maybe they figure that if the image is online, that it is out there for anyone’s use.  They are wrong.

Most clipart and online images do belong to someone.  That is why you will see many photography sites or art sites with watermarks on their images.  This is to help identify copyright and to discourage people from stealing their images.

If you are going to pull images from the internet to use on your materials, then use a free site such as or pay to use the images by going to an online company such as iStock Photo or Getty Images.  The free sites generally require you to provide a link to their site in exchange for use of their images, but it is a small “price” to pay for use.  If using iStock Photo or Getty Images, be sure to read through their terms of service to ensure that you are purchasing the correct license that works with your usage of their image.

Ignorance may be bliss, but in the case of copyright laws, it could result in a cease and desist letter, fines or lawsuits.  Keep that thought in the forefront as you decide where to get your stock images.



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