Searching relevant images and using them is very common and I have done it several times too. I just discovered that it could be unlawful. This is particularly true when you are using the image for commercial purposes.
Here is what Matthew Hall and Tyrilly Bolton say in their article “But we found the image on Google – doesn’t that mean we can just use it?” [Link]
Clients often ask us:
“But we found the image on Google – doesn’t that mean we can just use it?”
The answer is no. Just because you find an image on Google or elsewhere on the Internet does not mean you are automatically able to use it. This is because the image may be protected by copyright under the Copyright Act 1968 (or other similar legislation around the world). The owner of the copyright in the “works” (as that term is defined in the Act) has the exclusive right to do each of the following:
(a) reproduce the image;
(b) make the image public for the first time;
(c) communicate the image to the public (including online); and
(d) make an adaptation of the image.
You may infringe the owner’s copyright when you do (or authorise someone else to do) any one of the acts exclusively controlled by the copyright owner without their permission (and where no defence or exception to infringement applies).
Beware! Such use of ‘Found-on-Google’ images can be harmful to one’s image!
I have not used any image for commercial purposes, but, nevertheless, my apologies to all those whose images I have used!!