ELEARNING AND PRESENTATIONS: In Search Of Free-to-Use Images
by Kevin Siegel, CTT, COTP
When trying to find quality images for use in PowerPoint presentations or eLearning projects created with any development tool such as Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate, or TechSmith Camtasia, most people turn to Google. And why not? With a quick search you are sure to find the image you’re looking for.
For instance, I recently wanted to find an image of a puppy for use in an eLearning project. (I know, I know, I was enthralled with puppies in my last article... but come on, puppies!)
Check out some of the awesome puppy images Google found for me. It's unreal that these images are now mine, all mine!
As tempting as it might be to use images found via a Google search in your project, I’d caution against it. Most of the images you’ll find on the Internet while using any search engine are protected by copyright law. Using that adorable puppy on your web page, promotional materials, or even your eLearning project without permission from the copyright holder can lead to some hefty fines. In fact, according to Purdue University, “the law provides a range from $200 to $150,000 for each work infringed.”
Still wanting to search the web for an image of a puppy to use in a work project? There’s hope. Go to Google's advanced search page. In the all these words area, type puppy.
Scroll down to the usage rights area and, from the drop-down menu, choose free to use, share or modify, even commercially.
After clicking the Advanced Search button, plenty of images appear, just like a regular search. However, this time your search results are full of results you can actually use! But, not so fast! Be sure to put in the legwork. Click through to the image you'd like to use and check its usage rights. Some images will be labeled Creative Commons Zero. This means you can truly use, share, or modify the work, even commercially, without crediting the owner. But a lot of these results, while available for you to use, will still have some use restrictions like citing your source. Failure to do so could result in copyright fines.
But what if you already have an image on your computer or in a PowerPoint presentation or on a Storyline slide (perhaps the image was already being used in your project when you took it over)? How can you ensure that the image wasn’t “borrowed” from a website “accidentally?” For instance, I’d like to use the king-of-all-cuteness image shown below in my project. My friend Biff gave it to me. And nobody knows where he found it. (Biff, for his part, isn't talking.)
In this scenario, you can perform what is known as a “reverse lookup” that will find similar images and/or websites that are already using the image (a possible indicator that the image is protected by copyright).
Click the Upload an image tab and then upload the image from your computer or server. In my example of puppy cuteness, the mighty Google took just seconds to burst my bubble. My puppy image was being used by a site selling images for use on a phone. While the website owning the image might have granted me permission to use their image, it just wasn’t worth the time or effort (so off I went to perform an advanced Google search for free-to-use puppies).
Kevin Siegel, CTT, COTP, is the founder and president of IconLogic. Following a career in Public Affairs with the U.S. Coast Guard and in private industry, Kevin has spent decades as a technical communicator, classroom and online trainer, public speaker, and has written hundreds of computer training books for adult learners. He has been recognized by Adobe as one of the top trainers world-wide.