Can the photos downloaded from the internet be freely used?
In order to correctly answer, we would need to evaluate the different aspects of the situation, even so, usually, the experts differentiate three kinds of protection levels according to the type of photographs one wants to use, or rather if they are artistic photographs, simple but with some originality or photos reproducing objects or situations without any particular ability from the photographer. Regarding the first type, the creative ones, the recognised protection is the typical one of the copyright, therefore the total or partial reproduction is forbidden, and the creator has the sole right to use them for the whole life and passing this to his heirs for 70 years after his death. This type of photos are sold at a high price and the name of the author is always indicated, therefore it is unadvisable copying and reproducing them, also because, given their originality, are easily recognizable.
Regarding the second type of photos, protected according to the art. n. 87 and following of the copyright law, you need to further differentiate: if the photos bear the name and surname of the author, it is necessary to get his authorisation to publish them, obviously also paying him the royalty; if instead there is nothing written and the author is not known then they can freely be used. There is no protection over the third type of photos and can freely be used without any payment. The biggest difficulty is establishing really the borders between the different kinds of photos so to apply the appropriate regulation.