Re-using images from the web is as easy as Right Click – Save As. But did you ever check if that image contains a copyright notice ‘All rights reserved’?.
Second, others don’t want their copyrights abused, even those who don’t appear to have asserted it.
Third, copyright is enshrined in UK law.
Possible objections to this policy:
- I am not making any money, what’s your beef?
- Shucks, I didn’t see it, honest!
- Gotcha, it is published on the web already many times
- I’m not changing the image, I am publicising it
- I’m using a small image
- I am not doing any harm
- Everybody else does it
Reasons to comply:
- you may get us or yourself into trouble (we don’t want to be asked to remove all non-copyright images)
- it is unwise to rely on legal exceptions (the ‘i am a lawyer and am not using a “substantial part”‘ argument)
- using your own pics is always better and will give your site personality
- there are plenty of images available under the so called Creative Commons*, which can not only be re-used, but remixed and re-purposed
- failing that, if you love the image, why not ask the author – chances are they’ll be so flattered they’ll say yes and require no more than a thank you for credit
- if you are looking for a stock pic, buy one they are not necessarily expensive – a quid will make someone somewhere happy
* The Creative Commons copyright licenses and tools forge a balance inside the traditional “all rights reserved” setting that copyright law creates. The tools give image creators a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to their creative work. So now there is a vast and growing digital commons, a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law. To learn more about licences head over to http://creativecommons.org/licenses/
You’ll also find that some images on Flickr and Picasa are released under Creative Commons licence, most of mine are.
This is not to say that we support current copyright laws. Indeed the miserable lot at the Economist argue that copyright law is outmoded doing more harm than good. Also the UK based Open Rights Group would prefer to see rights expressed relative to the situation, not absolutely, implying a move away from the clear cut set of restrictions to a more permissive approach.