You need images for your blog. For your power point presentation. For your activity sheet. The clip art you have available on your office software is boring, or limited, or completely insufficient for your topic.
You decide to take a quick hop on the nearest available internet image search, find the perfect image and then use those helpful right-click-copy or save-as options. You drop your new-found ideal picture into your document. Maybe there’s a watermark or a signature that you decide to crop out. Maybe you leave it. Maybe you include a photo credit. Maybe you don’t.
We’ve all done it. Unless we’re remarkably scrupulous, we didn’t ask permission.
Which means that at one point or another, we’ve all been guilty of (mostly innocent) copyright infringement.
Big businesses have found all sorts of solutions to wrangling infringement on the internet–their latest solution appears to be allowing it so long as they get advertising revenue out of it: YouTube Ads Turn Videos into Revenue.
But most artists and a great many businesses don’t have the resources to be tracking down misuse of their works all over the wild and wacky internet, so a lot of infringement goes unnoted. If you, like I, have started wondering how to go about borrowing images in a more responsible manner, here are some resources for you which help explain copyright law and also point you in the direction of people who *want* to share their work with you.
Copyright Basics — A decent plain-language overview of copyright law from Stanford University
Creative Commons home page — These are the folks that like to share their work, where you can license a particular image, etc. for sharing under certain restrictions in easily understandable language, such as ‘I’m happy to share this with you if you will use it in a non-commercial way without altering it, or with alterations so long as you also allow your version to be shared with others under this same kind of license.’ Find artists or license your own work to share here.
Copyright Friendly and Copyleft Images and Sound — This is a resource list for places to find free stock photos, images which are in the public domain (including a number of excellent resources from the federal government, which is not allowed to hold copyright), and even some sounds/music, which is usually even more complicated from a copyright standpoint than words and images.