Fair Use & Copyright: Online Images

By: Kyle Kim

The Problem

There are many people out there that use search engines like Google or Bing to find pictures for a project or a business flyer. The problem with this is that some of these images are copyrighted and we aren't being fair to the people who created them. Fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and "transformative" purpose such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work.

Attribution & Creative Commons License

When we are looking at images on the internet, we immediately know that the author/creator attributed to helping the internet grow bigger. Attribution is the action of regarding something as being caused by a person or thing. When someone attributes to something they receive a creative commons license. This allows the creator of the work the ability to copyright anything that is tangible and already created. Creators are known as licensors if they used tools from the creative common license. The License ensures creators receive credit for their work. They work until the copyright is gone and grants permission to do whatever they want to do with their work.

Information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

Picture Below: http://cjfanderson.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/img_2062.jpg

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Copyright & After Expiring

Copyright is a law that protects original creative works such as book or music. One can easily break this law by using a creator's work and making it your own. This is very similar to plagiarism. Copyright laws ensure that your work does not get stolen. However, this does not last long. There is a time when the copyright of a work can get expired. When the creator creates a work, he/she has his/her whole life plus 70 years of their work being copyrighted. After the copyright expires, the general public can use the work. This is known as Public Domain. This allows anyone to take someone's work after the copyright has expired.

Information: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/legal/Copyright/Default.aspx

Picture Below: https://openclipart.org/image/2400px/svg_to_png/191202/public-domain-logo-slightly-nicer.png

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Fair Use

Although copyright prevents a lot of works from being stolen and used, there is a way that people can access these works. It is known as Fair use. Fair Use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited purpose, such as to criticize, comment upon, or parody a copyrighted work. Fair use allows people to use copyrighted work without the owner's permission but only for vague things like commentary or criticism. You can use fair use as a defense when accused of copyright infringement.

Information: http://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/fair-use/what-is-fair-use/

Picture Below: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/78/Fair_use_logo.svg/1024px-Fair_use_logo.svg.png

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How You Know an Online Image is Copyrighted and Examples

By now, you must be thinking back to every time you pulled an image out of Google or Bing. In order to not do this again, you need to find a way to check if it is copyrighted. Luckily for you, there is a way. If you want to check if the image is copyrighted, navigate to the United States Copyright Office website (United States Copyright Office: Homepage). Next, click "search records" at the top of the Copyright Office website. Then, click "Search the Catalog" under "Online Records." After that, Click "Set Search Limits." Select "Visual Materials" from the "Image Type" box and click "Set Search Limits" again. Finally, choose a search method from the "Search by" box and type your query or keywords into the "Search For" box and click search. If it doesn't show up, then there is a really good chance it is not copyrighted. If you do not want to check copyright all the time, you can go to certain websites with free images. These websites include Freerange Stock, The Open Photo Project, Stock.XCHNG, Imagebase: Free Stock Photography and many more.

Information: http://info.legalzoom.com/out-image-copyrighted-22728.html and http://designinstruct.com/roundups/free-stock-photos/


In conclusion, you must learn to check for copyright in images or you can be called to court for copyright infringement. You now understand all the information that is copyright and relates to copyright. With this information, you can spread the word and tell your friends and families so they can be safe on the web.

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