How to Know if an Image Is Copyrighted [UPDATED-2024]

How to know if an Image is copyrighted

How to know if an Image is copyrighted

In today’s online world, images exist on various platforms limitlessly. No matter whether they are websites, blogs, online documents, or social media, mind-blowing images are awash in these platforms. It’s enticing to deploy these images for your needs, be it a website, blog, PowerPoint presentation, or documents. But the key point to note is if you are using copyrighted images. If so, it will be termed as copyright infringement which is using others’ images illegally, without permission violating the copyright laws.

Every image available on the Internet is not directly usable. Some can be used following certain terms and conditions set by the creators while others may not be used under any condition.

So surely, Internet images are not off-limits but prior to using them, you have to verify the original source and know all the conditions to use them. You may have to leverage them under a specific creative commons license and provide legible information about their owners. The owners may even set a condition to contact them and take permission to use their properties.

If you search for an image with specific visual content in Google, there are high chances that you would get the image in large-extent or small-extent, depending on the demand.

Sometimes you may download a picture just by your preference. But that’s not the way to go as you can be slapped financially and legally due to breaking copyright infringement. On top of that, your reputation as an individual or company will also go down.

How to Figure Out if an Image Is Copyrighted

There are several ways to figure it out. But the most typical method is to simply search for the image on Google or Bing Images. However, you may not always be able to locate the image you are looking for. That’s why we’ve shown you how to spot copyrighted photos in a piece of writing. Follow these five steps:

1. Conduct Research to Figure out if an Image is copyrighted

Conduct researcch to find out if an image is copyrighted

You can carry out research in two different ways. At first, we would like to advise you to do a reverse search on a specific image. That will help you to find out the location of the image posting.

Secondly, you can also visit the U.S copyright office online as they have prepared an online catalog of images where you can search and access their database to know if an image is copyrighted.

To begin, you can navigate their website and put your title or keyword into the search box. You can also upload or drag and drop the specific image in the search box.

2. Know the Common Signs of a Copyrighted Image

Know the Common Signs of a Copyrighted Image

You won’t spot signs in copyrighted images instantly every time but there are certain tell-tale signs that you can observe frequently. You can find some images to be watermarked.

That is- images are overlaid by texts or symbols, either furtively or exhibited upfront so that they are protected from unauthorized uses. Even though a watermark can be removed from an image using image editing software it’s illegitimate.

You can also observe a copyrighted image by a copyrighted symbol or a company’s logo as well as the name placed on the image. Additionally, by overlaying specific notes on images, an individual can claim copyrights as well.

3. Ask and Look for the Original Image Poster

Ask and look for the original image poster

A host of images exist online and surely they were posted by different people. Some people post images on their websites while others on third-party platforms. One of the ways to know whether a specific image is copyrighted is to search for the original poster and query him about the picture’s legal use. Now, the question is how to find the original poster?

Take the image and do a reverse search on Google or Tineye. From the search result, find the image with a copyright notice or word copyright. Apart from this information, you should also get the publication date and the name of the primary poster.

4. Check the Image’s Exif Data

Images Exif Data to check image copyright and credits

You might have heard about EXIF data. In other words metadata from where you can check the properties of a file. And I know you’re familiar with it. EXIF data will help you to find image data.

To view the properties, download the image you want to check and click on the properties section by clicking on the right mouse button. Then click on the Exif or Details tab to view the data.

So, next time if you want to find out if an image is copyrighted or not, check out the metadata. And see if any valid data refers to the copyright holder’s info.

5. Lastly, If in Doubt, Don’t Use it Rather Use a Paid Image

Lastly, if in doubt, don't use it rather use a paid image

If you can’t verify the source of an image and are in doubt about the legal use of a particular image, the best is to refrain from using it. Isn’t it?

You must know copyright owners closely monitor the unauthorized use of their properties. If they find anyone guilty of breaching copyright laws, they can disconcert him with monetary indemnification or file a lawsuit. So, why should you take a risk and face dire consequences for no strong reason?

You don’t need to do that and more importantly, there are many premium image banks available with different specifications and budgets from which you can collect your desired images easily and smoothly.

Learn More: 12 Ways to Avoid Image Copyright Infringement


Copyright is a big deal! Infringing copyright is an offense and anyone committing such an offense can’t get away with it. Different copyright owners stipulate different conditions for their copyrighted images and it’s very pivotal for anyone intending to use their images to know about those conditions.

Don’t use copyrighted images neglecting the stipulated terms or else you may be punished heavily.

We hope you have garnered handy information about the way to detect a copyrighted image in this concise write-up.

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