The number of times I see marketers all over the world (including influencers with quite a following) simply take an image off of Google is unbelievable.
In order to use an image for anything – a blog post like this one, a social media post or even printed marketing materials – you need to have the license and rights to use that image.
If this wouldn’t be the case, then services like Shutterstock wouldn’t exist. It is therefore not legally permitted for companies or publishers to take images from Google search because they don’t explicitly have the rights to use those images freely. Images that appear in Google searches are there due to their usage on a news article or blog post, which in general means that the respective publisher has the rights to use that image. You are, however, not permitted to take that image and use it on your own website or for your own marketing materials. You need to have the permission from the original creator, or purchase a license to use that image for commercial/non-commercial usage.
The reason this is such a problem and why everyone keeps doing it is because they don’t see the repercussions of doing so. If an individual with some social media followers does so, it doesn’t really matter and nobody would care. I doubt any photographer or graphic designer will pursue legal action. However, if you run a reputable business then it is absolutely essential that you abide by the proper laws and regulations – not only to set an example for the industry but to appear professional. Images taken from Google are likely not to come close to the quality that can be found on Shutterstock or Pexels, and as stated earlier wouldn’t be free to use.