I just have a quick question about image use. For some background, I'm starting a business, and as a placeholder (I am not currently making money, so I guess its personal use right now but that will change obviously) I'm using an image I found online.

My issue arises in that this image is everywhere - literally 16 pages worth of google results if you reverse search it. Some websites list it as personal use only, others list that the image under Creative Commons 0 (i.e. public domain). What do I trust? If all of these websites can use it without listing another source, can I?

  • 1
    "If all of these websites can use it..." - Maybe all of those websites have a license to use it, but you don't.
    – Brandin
    Feb 5, 2019 at 11:17

1 Answer 1


If all of these websites can use it without listing another source, can I?

If that image is under copyright by someone - and it would be, in many jurisdictions, as soon as it was created by an individual - you can still be found to be infringing on that copyright, even if others are using it and also infringing. The copyright owner has the discretion to take action in court against any or all instances of infringement.

You're safest if you can determine the current copyright status and get permission; you can try Google Image search again and try to determine the first usage and see if that gives an indication to copyright status or license. You may be able to determine for certain that it is Creative Commons and you're allowed to use it under that license, as the Creative Commons license still has some restrictions in some instances of usage.

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