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Written by : Barton Sharrett
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hello world Mike plugger from viz me back with you today as we tackle a topic that is less about how to design your own great image and more about what to do when borrowing somebody else's you see the Internet is the world's largest conglomerate of images odds are that you likely googled an image just in the past 24 hours and while millions of results popped up in under a second they're not all available for just anyone to use copyright is very very real and not just in music or in publications the misuse of an image can lead to lawsuits cease and desist notices fines you name it and while a download is just a click away the proper precautions aren't taken you could be the one suffering the consequences however you're off to a good start because you're here with me aware of the threat and ready to learn over the next few minutes I'll take you through a visual flowchart to ensure you're not the one hit with any unexpected notices let's get started step one is the image yours did you take the photo or maybe design the image yourself let's start off easy and say yes moving down the line the next question is how about the idea for the image was that yours if yes again then I have some great news it's your camera your photo your idea therefore it's your copyright originality pays off here and you are free to go but maybe it wasn't your idea if you mimic the design that you saw from a third party it could cost you and I would recommend against using that image or maybe you're simply unsure of its originality because of the millions and millions of photos out there in the world do your best to research other similar images after all it's better to be safe than sorry okay back to the top if the photo wasn't taken or designed by you you got to find out if it falls under what is called the fair use doctrine what is this exactly well to put it simply it's a doctrine in the United States government that allows for limited use of copyrighted material without permission from the copyright holder courts have cited examples of fair use include more so if your work falls under one of these categories you can head straight to the fair use checklist here you can double check if the work could be considered fair and if it's not well then there's more work to be done if you're not using the image for one of the reasons that I just mentioned and it is not possible to obtain permission maybe because the creator of the image passed away and nobody else owns those rights then I actually have good news for you you can use that image however if you're unsure if it falls under the public domain or if it's under a Creative Commons agreement it's best to avoid using it you don't want a quick decision to end up costing you time and money down the line so if you can obtain permission then our journey continues the next question that you want to answer is will you profit from publishing the image if not then see you later you're off to that fair use checklist that I mentioned before but if you are going to profit from using the image it's okay you can still potentially use it but there are more steps to take the next question you want answered is is it a part of the public domain or is it a part of what is called a Creative Commons agreement a Creative Commons license is one of several public copyright licenses that enables the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work there are six types of Creative Commons licenses all slightly different from one another sometimes the image can be modified sometimes the image can only be used commercially they all bear very slight differences which is why I encourage you to check out our blog post you want to get this right and no matter what attribution will be required but anyways if it's in the public domain then that means their rights are released in publication rights have been granted if it has a CC agreement you just want to specify which one to understand what conditions may apply and if the image is not protected by a CC agreement or it's not in the public domain than the wheels on this bus keep turning alright it's time for a final question did you buy the image or were you granted permission to use it if yes then I have some great news you are free to use that image however you may like just beware the fine print that you've reached in your agreement now if you didn't buy the image you're not going to like what I have to say you didn't buy the rights you didn't obtain permission and it's not in the public domain you want to move on like you never saw this image in the first place you want to forget about it completely because you shouldn't use it under any circumstances don't hate the messenger here I promise I'm just trying to help now that we finished the flowchart I want to remind you to check out that fair use checklist that I've mentioned over and over again here you want to ask yourself about the purpose and the character of the use of that image the nature of the copyrighted work the amount of work that you're going to use in relation to the fully copyrighted work and also the impact that your use bears on the copyright owner and if you're still unsure you want to obtain permission seriously I cannot say it enough because once you have it you are free to use that image however you may lie now before you go I promise I don't want to scare you but I do think it's very important to touch on the possible penalties for misusing an image I'm talking those lawsuits legal fees and even criminal charges and it could happen to you if you misuse even a portion of a protected image whether it's intentional or not it's still a crime which is why it's vital to understand licensing usage rules even if a web designer is hired by a company and then steals content that entire company is guilty not just the employee has been Franklin once set an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and if you're still stuck without an image to use we're here to help visit me has an array of tools to help you create your own original image since you're the creator you save yourself the time and effort and worry of seeking permission and the potential harm of copyright infringement that's going to do it for today if you have any questions please check out vis mieze blog post where all of this is explained in deep detail and if you liked our video make sure you subscribe to our channel for constantly updated content for now from vis me I'm Mike plugger helping you make information beautiful
Thanks for your comment Davis Bantillan, have a nice day.
- Barton Sharrett, Staff Member
Thanks moltekenN your participation is very much appreciated
- Barton Sharrett
About the author
I've studied consumer economics at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh and I am an expert in sociology of natural resources. I usually feel hyper. My previous job was motion picture director I held this position for 23 years, I love talking about yoga and blogging. Huge fan of One Direction I practice rhythmic and collect militaria.
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