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Clip Art Copyrights Explained

Clip Art Copyrights

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Clip Art Copyrights? What's That?
Copyrights protect the creator of an original piece of content.

All created content, including art, clip art, images, articles, photographs, pictures, features, songs, books, etc., belongs to the person who created it.

Publishing or uploading created content, including clip art, on the World Wide Web does NOT place the clip art or content in the public domain.

Each person who creates clip art, backgrounds, animation, images, music, or other content sets the terms of usage for their clip art or content. These terms of usage vary greatly from person to person, and Web site to Web site. The terms of usage may be as simple as one sentence, or as complex as three pages of detailed instructions.

Company names and logos such as Ford, Harley Davidson, Hallmark, etc., are copyrighted. Some symbols such as a red cross are also copyrighted. They may not be used on your personal or commercial Web site or for personal or commercial projects.

One common myth about clip art is that if you download a piece of clip art, change it in any way by recoloring it, animating it, reversing the image, changing one line of the image, or changing 20 percent or so of the image, then you have created a new piece of clip art and it is now yours to do with as you wish. Wrong! Only the person who created it has the copyright to it. Unless you have obtained permission from the creator to take and change an image can you do so, but this still does not give you the right to claim it as your own.

Four Points to Ponder

  • All created clip art belong to the person who created it.
  • Each person who creates clip art sets the terms of usage for it.
  • Copyrights protect the person who creates the clip art.
  • Changing clip art that you did not create does not make it yours.
  • Three Terms to Know

  • Free To Use On Personal Web Pages: means that you may use the graphics on your own noncommercial site but may not use them in any other way. If you have advertisement of any kind on your site, then your site is a commercial site.
  • Free To Use On Personal or Commercial Web Pages: means that you may place the images on your personal site, or on your site that has advertisement on it, but the clip art may not be used in any other way, such as placing the images in a collection on your site for others to use.
  • Linkware: is a term that means if you use the specified image or images, you must link back to that site.
  • Two Dangers To Beware:
    Some Webmasters collect clip art from hither and yon all over the Web and put it on their site as a collection of Public Domain clip art. If you find either of the following phrases in their terms of usage, then BEWARE:

  • I believe all images in this collection are in the public domain. If you find any image belonging to you, email me, and I'll remove it.
  • I've placed this collection of clip art in the public domain for use on personal or commercial Web pages. Do Not put these images in a collection of clip art or sale them.
  • Please know that the above collections of clip art are NOT public domain clip art. Public domain has no terms of usage attached.

    One Thing You Must Do

  • Find and read the terms of usage! Can't locate the terms of usage, or the terms of usage are vague and unclear? Email the Webmaster for clarification of use.
  • Be safe, not sorry. Respect the rights of others and obey copyrights law.

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