Using images in presentations – some legalities

Today’s guest blog is brought to you by Simon Raybould of Aware Plus.

Last time, I talked about getting your images from Google and making sure they were big enough and bold enough to use.

I’m going to ignore any questions of taste and art and how pretty they are (not to mention how well they show what you want them to show) and skip on over to looking at how to make sure you get your images legally.

Option One – pay for them. There you go, simple as that.

Option Two – get them from a Google images search, making sure you only take images you’re allowed to take.

There’s a bit of a grey area about what’s legally usable on-line, to do with copyright and if publishing to the net makes things ‘public domain’ and therefore usable by anyone. For now I’m going to assume you want to be absolutely sure that you can use the image you’re interested in. How do you do this? The answer, again, lies in the Advanced Search function. Here’s where to find it (on the current incarnation of the search page!).

Advanced Search images




The bit you’re looking for is right at the bottom – scroll down until you see this kind of drop-down menu. The filter you select will depend on what you’re using the image for, of course.

Usage rights




I generally have to use the very stringent filter (“Free to use or share, even commercially”). You can see how much effect that has on the number of images when you compare the results from the search on ‘fear’ in the last post to the results in the screen grab below. By filtering for license and the large file size, we’re down to a selection of only 64,500 images, rather than our original 1630000000! But hey, at least we’re legal – and if, as in our case, one of the images in the original list is in this filtered list and is a good one, we’re not only legal but golden!


Option Three – attribution. Some sites allow you to use the images, so long as you give the appropriate attribution. Each of these sites has different terms and conditions and you should take the time to make sure you’re happy with these. Personally, I try very hard to stick to these conditions but I try and avoid using this kind of site because the attribution requirements often make my posts look a bit amateur.  It’s horses for courses though and you should just use what you need, how you need it.

Simon Raybould is Director of Aware Plus, and an expert in communications training, including the advanced versions of the MBTI psychometric tool  Aware run the famous Curved Vision brand of presentation skills training courses. He’s also a professional lighting designer, specialising in work for dance companies. So what if the pay’s rubbish, it’s a lot of fun!

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