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Enrique RAmos / Alamy Stock Photo

How to find out who owns the copyright to an image

When you find an image you like, it’s not always clear who owns the copyright to the image or if you have permission to use it. We’ve put together this quick guide to make finding the copyright owner as easy as possible!

Depending on where you find the image, you’ll have different options to try and find out who the copyright owner is. We’ve picked out four of the most common places you might find images, but if you need more help let us know in the comments.

1. In a printed publication

Images used in a printed publication like a magazine or newspaper are often credited with the copyright information. You will normally find it beneath the image, or in the spine of the magazine. Sometimes, if the image was provided by a stock agency, the agency will be credited rather than the photographer. If you’d like to know the photographer’s name you can either visit the stock agency’s website and search for it or contact the agency to find out.

If there is no credit line the next step is to contact the publisher. The publisher’s contact details may be listed in the publication, or you can use a search engine to find them.

2. On a website or online publication

Sourcing the copyright holder’s details from an online publication may be a little easier than from a printed publication. Again, start with the credit line on the image. The benefit of an online publication or website is that credit lines can also be links, so there’s a possibility that the credit line may link the image back to the original source.

3. In a search engine

If you find an image using a search engine like Google, there are a couple of ways to find the copyright details.

If you select an image in Google Images, it will load some information about the image to the right-hand side. Here, you will be able to see the website the image is hosted on, along with any captions assigned to the image and, in some cases, the image credits. If the image credits aren’t shown, it’s always worth checking the website that’s hosting the image as this may contain details about who owns the image or where the image was sourced.

For the 3 options above, another option is to use a tool like PicScout Search to try and locate the copyright holder’s details:

The PicScout Search tool enables image buyers to identify and license the images they’d like to use. Whether you’ve taken a picture of an image, downloaded one from Google Images or another website, or seen an image you like on social media, you simply upload the image to PicScout Search and the tool will find the image if it’s on the PicScout platform. If the image is found, a link will be provided to where the image can be licensed.

4. In a stock image library

Stock image libraries are the safest and simplest ways to license images. If you find an image in a stock image library like Alamy, simply click through to the image page and the copyright information will be displayed in the image credits. If you can’t find the copyright info, or aren’t sure what permissions you need to use an image, why not contact the customer service team for help? Alamy’s customer service team are available via live chat, email or on the phone! Check out our contact page for more information.

Can’t find out who the copyright holder is?
If you can’t find the copyright information for an image, don’t use it. You need to be sure you have the right permission and license for an image before you use it, so the safest option is to use a stock image library like Alamy.

Want to know more? Check out these Alamy blogs:
How to use Google Images effectively
How to make sure you’re legally covered to use an image 

With over 150,000 contributors and 675 agencies from 173 countries, we’re committed to ensuring that you can find the perfect image whether it’s local or international. And with 150,000 images added everyday, many of them exclusive to the Alamy library, you’re bound to see something new. Our unedited library offers you the most diverse collection, brimming with high quality, unique, authentic imagery. With Alamy, you can always see more.