When looking for public domain and Creative Commons licensed images to use in multimedia projects I generally recommend going to sites like Unsplash, Pixabay, and Photos for Class instead of Google Images (my full list of recommendations is available here). The reason for that recommendation is that in the past Google Images hasn’t been terribly clear about image licensing even when the “labeled for re-use” filter has been applied to image search results. Fortunately, Google is taking some steps to change that.
Google has simplified the “usage rights” menu in Google Image search results. The menu now has just three options. Those options are “all,” “Creative Commons licenses,” and “Commercial & other licenses.” For most classroom projects you’ll want your students to use the “Creative Commons license” option.
The other significant update to Google Image search results appears when you select an image from the search results. Now when you select an image you will see an option to get license details and a clearer link to the image source. Clicking on the “license details” link will take you a page on CreativeCommons.org where you’ll be able to find more information about how you can or cannot use the image.
Applications for Education
Whenever it is possible it is best to use your own pictures in your slideshows, videos, and other multimedia projects. By doing that you know that you haven’t accidentally infringed on anyone’s copyright. That’s why this blog post has a seemingly random picture of a leaf I took yesterday. It’s not always possible to use your own pictures. That’s when we’ll turn to the Internet to find a picture that is in the public domain or has a Creative Commons license.