Publishers and bloggers in search of creative commons and reusable photos will have an easier time finding images on Google. The search engine added a Usage Rights tab to its Advanced Image Search for people to limit results to photos people can actually use.

There are currently four options for users to choose from:

  • Labeled for reuse
  • Labeled for commercial reuse
  • Labeled for reuse with modification
  • Labeled for commercial reuse with modification

According to Engadget, Bing brought this tool to the forefront six months ago, Google has always had it, but it hasn’t been as easy to find. This search option can save you the frustration of falling in love with photos that you can’t use or failing to find usable photos at all. It cuts down on image search time and ensures you won’t be facing a lawsuit anytime soon.

Both Bing and Google recommend using the Creative Commons website to check what the exact license entails:

Before reusing content that you’ve found, you should verify that its license is legitimate and check the exact terms of reuse stated in the license. For example, most licenses require that you give credit to the image creator when reusing an image.

Many a publisher has felt the wrath of image copyright law and some have even said it’s the modern-day equivalent of McDonald’s coffee lawsuits. Here are just three examples:

Kari DePhillips of The Content Factory was sued $8,000 for using a copyrighted picture of Omaha, Nebraska. Dephillips explained that people who create copyright content hire systems to scan the Internet looking for unauthorized use. The victim then sues the website or blog for the rights of the image. In this case, the creator walked away with $3,000.

Roni Loren, a romance author and blogger, was contacted for using a copyrighted photo and immediately apologized profusely and took it down. No harm, no fowl, right? Wrong. Lawyers got involved and she ended up paying for the rights. Not only was that incident an epic pain in the butt, but Loren then changed the photos on her 700 blog posts and deleted her Pinterest and Tumblr accounts to make sure this wouldn’t happen again in the future.

$3,000 may seem like a lot of money, but that’s pocket change compared to what the website Righthaven Lawsuits demands from blogs. They prosecute to the full $150,000 plus the domain of the offending site. Technology Review reported that the firm was going after bloggers who were using news photos from the Denver Post about TSA screening.

All three of these articles were quick to point out that simply giving attribution to photos or taking them down when contacted by the creator wasn’t enough to get them out of legal trouble. In the end, all offending parties had to deal with the inconvenience of lawyers, the pain of paying out of pocket, and the fear of getting shut down.

This is why the usage rights search option is crucial for publishers. It’s worth it to take the extra time to select public domain photos and triple check their usability because it could save you thousands of dollars and countless headaches down the road.