Important Points to Know to Ensure That You’re Legally Using Online Images
Compiled by Marta Ulvaeus and Matthew Malmlund @KCSB
1. Whenever possible use photos or graphics that you yourself have created. If you created it, you own it.
2. Assume every image you find online is copyrighted.
Plagiarism and copyright infringement are not the same.
Providing attribution and/or giving credit for the source of the image do not negate copyright infringement. You MUST get permission.
*Rule of thumb: Check licenses (UNLICENSED material can still be copyrighted) and ask for permission.
3. If you must use images you yourself have not created, then whenever possible use public domain images.
There are many websites that curate images that are in the public domain. You are free to use these, and in most cases you don’t have to provide attribution.
4. There are several photo-sharing sites where users can allow others to download and use images under one of the several Creative Commons licenses, all of which require attribution.
These are creators who are willing to share their work, but who would like to be credited. Make sure you are clear about the requirements for the image you plan to use. These agreements vary.
5. Making changes to a copyrighted image doesn’t make it yours.
If you don’t have the copyright to an image, changing it so it looks different doesn’t relieve you from potential liability. The same goes for using part or parts of an image.
6. If it’s your website, you are liable.
Make sure that you have a system in place to ensure that all posts to your site have the requisite permissions.
*Fair use, one of the most complex parts of copyright law and the most difficult to argue AND win, is defined & explained here http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html