Do you have permission to use that photograph you just found on the internet? If not there are a few things you should know when it comes to Understanding Photography Copyright!
Imagine someone stealing your artwork and re-creating it without your permission, not a great feeling right? I bet you’d be furious especially if that person then went on to sell their re-creation – essentially stealing your revenue! Photography in itself is an art form and obviously the main source of income for a lot of photographers. It’s only fair then that we respect their rights in terms of Copyright law.
Thankfully many AMAZING photographers out there are happy for us artists to use their photographs as reference material. However, I cannot stress enough that YOU NEED THEIR PERMISSION FIRST!
PHOTOS ON THE INTERNET ARE FREE GAME, RIGHT?
WRONG!!! It always surprises me how so many people (artists in particular) are under the misconception that if a photograph is on the internet it’s free to use as you please. The fact is however, that using or replicating any image in any shape or form, without the consent of the original author/photographer can land you in a lot of trouble and in some cases you could be sued for Copyright infringement.
WHAT ABOUT PHOTOS IN BOOKS OR MAGAZINES?
Nope, still not allowed to copy or reproduce them without permission unless a Creative Commons license mentions otherwise.
WHAT IS A CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE?
A Creative Commons (CC) license is a type of public copyright license that is used when an photographer gives people the right to use and share a work they have created, without copyright infringement concerns.
I’m no legal expert but I always make sure to check the type of CC license assigned to an image before using it as a reference. If I cannot definitively say whether it’s safe to use then I simply will not use it.
I love Pixabaybecause as you can see by this screen shot, each image on their site clearly displays the license properties, taking all the guess work out.
ALWAYS GIVE CREDIT WHERE POSSIBLE
Even if there isn’t a requirement to credit the photographer when using their photo I feel it’s only fair to do so.
WHAT ABOUT COPYING ANOTHER ARTIST
Unless you are following a tutorial, or the artist has given you permission to re-create a particular artwork, this is a BIG no no! Getting inspiration from a certain artists style is one thing, however trying to copy someone else’s work, besides it being a copyright infringement, is just plain wrong!
ROYALTY FREE PHOTO RESOURCES
There are some great websites offering royalty free images for artists to use. Some offer the images to you for free whereas others request a nominal fee.
Here is a list of my favourite Royalty Free Photo Resources. Remember to check the type of CC license for each image.