Websites look much better with pictures. Unless yours is a scholarly website that includes long academic papers, images add to your visitors’ overall experience and help get their attention. Where do you get photographs? Well, if you’re a capable photographer, you can always shoot them yourself. But if you aren’t or you need a photo of something you don’t have access to, what do you do? First and foremost, don’t copy a photograph or other image from someone else’s website without asking permission to use it. Most people know this. Some people either don’t know or don’t care and think they won’t get caught. It’s important to know that it has recently become much easier for the owner of an image to track down unauthorized web uses thanks to the folks at Google.

Google Search by Image is a new tool that lets you search the web for occurrences of an image. You can either upload the image you are searching on or use a plugin in Google Chrome or Firefox 4 to do the search. The plugin adds the option, “Search Google with this image,” to the right-click menu. Right-clicking on an image and selecting this option will open a Google page displaying the original image and other occurrences of the image on the web. It will also show you a selection of visually similar images, although some of these may actually only be similar in color scheme. Also, it can turn up some false positives if there are any almost identical photographs out there.