Is your Clipart Illegal?

April 9, 2006 at 1:20 am Leave a comment

You'll be surprised about the amount of people who have illegal images on their websites, alot of them don't actually know that they are actually breaking a law that could result in Federal charges, ask yourself do you have illegal clip-art?


 By Mark McDonald

The Internet is everyday being clutched closer by lawyers, law was once though to be impossible to enforce over the Internet, images were simply taken off one site then used on the next. Nobody really cared, because the Internet was such a small thing, only nerds used it.

These days the Internet is the fastest growing communication medium in the known universe, and suddenly what happens online, really does matter. If somebody steals your really cool icons that take you ages to make, and starts using it on their site, often the result is great anger and sometimes legal action. But how do you know that what you are using on your site is actually not illegal, unless you made it all yourself?

Professional Stock Collection
Most web designers use other peoples work, but where did you actually get those images from? If you purchased them from a stock clip-art or photography site most likely you have permission to use it throughout your site, but did you read the fine print? Sometimes there is restrictions on how you can use your purchase.

Always make sure that you know whether your purchase is royalty free, or licensed. Royalty free is the cheaper option and means that anyone can use the piece as many times as they want as long as they are willing to pay the once off fee, while licensed photography is the more expensive option. You are the only person who can actually use the photo, but you pay for it every-time you use it, so if you use it nine times, you have to pay nine times.

If you only pay once, and simply copy that photo, out onto every page, you are doing an illegal action, even if you don't know it, and are technically stealing.

FREE Clip-art and Photography Sites
Many sites offer free clip-art and photography, this is ideal for personal, club and other shoestring web projects. The problem many people run into with this set-up is people don't read the fine print.

Often you are required to give credit to the site that you got,  in the form of a link, a short mention or the water mark already on the image, if you don't do everything that the terms and conditions page tells you to, you may be breaking the law.

Images off other websites
Websites like your own may have some great work that you might want to use on your own site, make sure that you read the fine print unless the webmaster directly says so he or she owns the copyright to that image, and you can't use it, without their written permission (anemail's great).

Fortunately alot of artists are eager for to give you that permission in exchange for a link to their site, this arrangement gives them free publicity and you great art. Everybody Happy.

If the webmaster, refuses to exchange art for a simple link, maybe you have to sweeten the pot. Offer them something better maybe some cash, a free copy of an ebook you have written, or whatever. If they still don't agree. It's time to give up with them, there's heaps of other images out there that the author would be more then happy to do business with you.

But remember, a webmaster who isn't the original owner of an image, cannot grant you permission to the copyright, but they can direct you to the person who they got the image off. So when you email them, make sure you ask!

Image repository Sites
An Image repository is a site that offers millions of images, available for download without regard for where they came from or what kind of legal issues it may cause you when you use your images.

Google Images, is a example of a image repository. You simply type up a word and it lists heaps of images that it's spider googlebot (yeah it has a name) has found. My advice is if you use a image repository use it only to find images, off other sites that you plan to ask permission to use, like we talked about above.

Do not ever just take, a image. It is illegal and people have gone to jail for doing it. Yes people who just put one on their personal homepage. If you want to stay clean always read the fine print and ask permission.

Yours in hypertext transfer protocol,
Mark McDonald.


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