A visual can sure add a lot of impact to a website or your blog. It can give an immediate “ah-ha” to the reader and attract attention to your articles. Adding an image or creative work to your web page or post can make a big difference on the impact of your message. Images do grab readers’ attention, but be careful, you can’t use just any image… Using a copyrighted image without permission from the creator of the work or the copyright holder is copyright infringement. This article is a short introduction to copyright and creative images. Please check with an intellectual property attorney for more specifics and to answer your specific questions about copyrights and creative works.
You can’t just use any image you find and like in blog posts, on your web site or in printed material. The law automatically grants full “copyright” over any creative work a person makes. This includes any creative work such as drawings, photos and text. Copyrights are applied to all intellectual property such as books, websites, blogs, photographs, audio and video recordings, e.g. songs, music and YouTube videos too. When choosing a creative work to use, make sure that it has a creative common license, a full-usage, licensed or granted usage, or is royalty-free. All have limitations and except for full-usage, rarely grant complete usage rights. Ask for a copy of the usage license rights and restrictions before purchasing or using an image. Many places like www.fotosearch.com and www.photodisc.com have the licenses they use posted on their sites.
Images marked as “All Rights Reserved” are copyrighted and require permission from their creator. Images marked as “Some Rights Reserved” have a creative commons license applied. There are several types of creative commons licenses. Each license imposes different restrictions on how you use the images. There are four main types of creative common licenses, “Attribution,” “Share Alike,” “Noncommercial,” “No Derivative Works.” Each of the four categories has a variety of license types for different usages, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/ to learn more.
Creative Commons is an organization that provides free content licenses that the person developing the creative piece can apply to their work. (http://creativecommons.org/license/) The artists that choose to use this license are giving people permission to use the licensed piece without having to ask permission, provided they use it in the manner stated in the Creative Common License. Read each Creative Common License carefully as they do vary.
When using an image with a creative commons license, it is important to note the attribution with the image; e.g., Photo by John Smith licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic. Check with the creator of the image or the website that you get the image from, e.g. Flickr, for guidelines. This will ensure you are compliant with copyright requirements and give credit where credit is due.
This article is not meant to be legal advice and you are encouraged to further educate yourself about copyright and the implications to your site. Copyright laws vary internationally.