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Finding pictures to accompany a project or presentation is something that's done every day. But did you know that in order to use a picture that you've found on the Internet you must first ensure that you have the photographer's permission?

Yup. That's right.

Otherwise, you've broken copyright laws just like you would if you print off an article or copy someone else's report and try to pass it off as your own.

A hard concept to get your head around, isn't it, since technology allows us to click, copy and paste until the cows come home (whatever that means).

Look at it this way. The speedometer on my car goes up to 180 km per hour. Technology allows me to drive at ridiculous speeds. However, the law dictates that I am not allowed to exceed 100 km per hour on our highways.

Are you still with me? That's what I thought.

So, how do you find out if you do have permission to use a photograph for your assignment? Here's one way to do it!

1. Go to Google.

2. Click on Images (located at the top of the screen).

3. Click on Advanced Image Search (located beside the Search Images bar).

4. Go to the bar at the bottom of the page that reads not filtered by license. Hit the dropdown arrow and change the instruction to labeled for reuse.

5. Click on the white bar at the top of the screen that corresponds with relate to all of the words and type in your search (I typed “whales”). Then click on Google Search.

6. Click on the first picture in the selection.

7. Click on ALL SIZES located right above the picture.

8. Scroll down below the picture until you find a box that reads Some Rights Reserved. Click here and you'll find out what the conditions are if you want to use that picture. If you find it hard to understand, join the club! It's legal work and sometimes difficult to fully understand.

The one condition that we'll focus on is called attribution. This means cite your source and give credit where credit is due.

Here are a couple of examples about how to do it.


Title / Source

Date Posted / Date Accessed

Peat Bakke's Photostream

Humpback Whales Feeding / Flickr

June 27, 2007 / March 21, 2010

Thom Quine

Vancouver ib jpg. / Wikimedia Commons

April 8, 2006 . March 21, 2010


If you can't find any copyright conditions accompanying the picture then that's usually a sign that you don't have a legal right to use it. Think big batch of cookies that your Mom has made for a church fundraiser. They're cooling on the rack and no-one's in the kitchen but you. Tough one, eh!

There are other ways to find pictures responsibly and ethically. We'll look at those another time.

For now, let's call it a day!!

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