I've seen people pay for hosting, pay for a domain name, pay for a theme, even pay for some addons to their site, yet when it comes to images, they'll hop over to Google Image search and download other people's images for their own use.
Not only is this clearly in breach of copyright law and theft, it also reflects badly on your site as a whole. Many of these images are poor quality, not the ideal size, or not relevant.
So even if you don't mind running the risk of getting sued big time, your site won't look much better for it.
Why People Prefer To Just Download Images
I think there are two main reasons why people love to just take images from Google:
1.) Laziness – the search engine is right there, so easy to use!
2.) Fear – People don't want to fork out a lot of money for paid images.
I'll address the fear issue first.
I understand what it's like when you start a new business online, you want to keep costs low, you want your business to be profitable, and you think having to buy an image for every article you write is going to soon add up to a lot of money.
That's where you're wrong.
Paid image sites like Fotolia are actually cheaper if you buy in bulk. You could get some top quality images for as little as $0.33 with a subscription. There are many different price ranges, but I think anyone serious about their business can afford that.
Additionally, when a site starts out, it has to prove itself to its new audience, it has to look professional and worth spending time on. The sooner it can do this, the sooner it will start earning money. In other words, investing a little in quality images at the beginning will make your site more profitable and sooner.
You can't afford NOT to do it.
Now for the laziness part.
Fotolia image search is superior to Google image search. Head there now if you don't believe me. Perform the same search at Google image search and at Fotolia and see which one brings back better images.
Fotolia won right?
The amount of effort it takes to find a great image for your site on Fotolia vs the amount of time wasted on Google image search is unreal.
Below, I'm going to showcase some images I've found on Fotolia for you.
Fotolia Image Library – My Selection
Trust me, these images are 10000000 times better than anything else you might find. For a few pennies, is it worth the hassle of looking elsewhere?
You can also check out my sites for sale here. Every one of those sites uses Fotolia images. See how good they look even for a skeleton site?
There are other paid image sites like Fotolia, but it's the one I use and recommend to everybody to use as well.
The legal Issue
I don't want to go too deep in this, but I'll explain a little. Please note this is not legal advice, just common sense.
If you download a copyrighted image from Google images or even Flickr, you run the risk of facing a lawsuit or other legal action. An image is somebody else's property, and in many cases a photographer has been paid for it. By taking it as you please and sticking it up on your own site, you are stealing. Plain and simple.
Buying ‘Royalty- Free' images on paid sites means you have paid once to use the image, and are not subjected to pay any further fees or royalties. You've bought the image (at a very fair, reasonable price) and you can use it on your site.
Say goodbye to stories such as this.