Microsoft Office Users, Beware When Selecting Images

Guest blog by Laura Foley

Microsoft has made a fundamental change to the way users can access media files to place into their Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, Publisher files, or Excel spreadsheets. Beginning last December, they removed the option to access free photos, clip art, video, and audio from Now when you use the Insert command the default option is to use Bing to find the media you’re looking for. Microsoft contends that it affords us users an opportunity to access millions and millions of items to insert into our presentations.

Me, all I can see is that Microsoft has made it super-easy for users to unwittingly steal content.

slidesBefore, all of the media available on was free and clear for everyone to use. And some of the photographs were from Getty Images, which is a huge player in the photography biz. Now Microsoft has left it up to us to correctly attribute the media we use in our presentations. We’re urged to “review the specific license for the image [we] want to use to ensure [we] can comply with it.”

The problem is that many people don’t realize that just because an image is freely available doesn’t mean it’s free.

What does this mean for Joe Average Microsoft Office User? Not much. But it could open up more and more companies to litigation if they use copyrighted images in presentations that are widely distributed, broadcast, or shared.

The burden is on us to correctly attribute the media we place into our presentations. Fortunately, it’s not that hard to find free images that can be used, with and without attribution. But it is an extra step we need to take to ensure that our great presentations don’t also become great liabilities.

Download our 80+ Free/Low-cost Image Sources guide

Laura FoleyAs the Cheater of Death by PowerPoint, Laura Foley provides training and presentation design services to help people communicate their ideas and be better presenters. Her website can be found at

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