Using online images may sound simple but it’s actually so complicated that it might make your head spin. As in all other domains of law, applying common sense and logic doesn’t work, which makes the whole problem a blurring mess. The whole idea is that everything that’s published on the Internet is copyrighted so you should be really careful about what you’re putting on your blog because there might be repercussions. From your perspective, everything is as simple as downloading the image from Google and using it on your site, blog, profile, etc. The truth is insanely more complicated and unclear. I’ll try to shed some light on the matter, but no promises given.
Every bit of content you see on the Internet is copyrighted unless it’s stated otherwise. From your girlfriend’s duck face picture to your mom’s infographic about your marks in middle school (just imagine the horror if your mother could actually do that) posted on her Facebook page, it’s all copyrighted. So, you know, next time you decide to use a cute image in your blog, know what you’re doing is probably illegal or in the very least immoral (shame on you!).
Copyright Infringement is not Plagiarism
There is a difference between copyright infringement and plagiarism. To put it into perspective – imagine you’re writing an article about, say, copyrighted material, and you see a very nice picture online that fits your article perfectly. You decide to download it and take it as your own but (oh, no!) it’s copyrighted so upon uploading it alongside your article you’ve just committed a copyright infringement. Not to mention that you’ve proven how bad you are at writing articles on the matter.
Anyway, your literary skills aside, if instead of using the direct image, you’d made a similar one (from scratch) and not provided the proper credit where it was due, then you’ve committed the heinous act of plagiarism. This means that you’ve stolen the authors idea as your own. Even though this is not illegal, it’s immoral and you should feel about it. If you provide the credit, then it’s no longer plagiarism (it’s the same as using a quote in your essay – as long as you don’t claim it’s yours and give credit where it’s due, it’s OK). Keep in mind that even though providing credit is a fine and dandy of avoiding plagiarism, it does nothing for copyright infringement. Even if you say who was the author of the picture, what you did was still illegal.
It’s OK to Ask People for Their Content
Even though almost everything on the Internet is protected by copyright law, that doesn’t mean that people don’t really want you to use it. They just want you to ask for it, first (some of them, anyway) because they’ve put a lot of effort into creating it and they want you to respect that and actually ask them to use it. They will be more than likely to grant you access. All you have to do is ask.
Of course, you can get around all of this by simply using public domain images. This is a great way of using images without being worried that you’re committing a felony. Public domain images are there for your use. Most people think that if something is free, it has to be bad, but this is not really the case. Like I said earlier, many of those who upload their content on the web want to share it, but they want to do it on their own terms. Public domain sharing sites enable them to do just that. Read the terms and conditions first to see if you have to provide credit or not. This is by far the safest way.
Author Bio: Rose Finchley has a lot of experience in the area of technologies. She works for http://www.qualitycleaninglondon.co.uk/cleaning-services-nw6-west-hampstead/ for many years and has a lot to share.