What Images Are Protected by Copyright?

What images are protected by copyright

Copyright is a law that protects intellectual property, such as writing, music, film, photography and more. It comes into effect the moment a work is created and fixed in a tangible form.

When using images online, it’s important to know what rights you have under copyright law. This includes knowing whether or not a photo is copyrighted and how to use it safely.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization that creates tools and licenses that allow people to share, adapt, build upon, and remix works without giving up copyright. This allows creators and owners to easily share their work and gives users an easier way to find the content they want for free.

The CC licenses are designed to be globally enforceable. They are based largely on international copyright treaties, but they take into account as many jurisdiction-specific legal issues as possible.

CC has six standard licenses, including an unported or “international” version for works that need to be shared on a global basis. These are primarily designed for sharing music, movies, and books on the Internet.

All CC licenses require proper attribution of the original author. They also provide for the freedom to adapt, build upon, and remix works as long as you release any new works under the same conditions.

The most permissive CC license is the Attribution-Share Alike (CC-BY-SA) license. This is the most versatile of all the CC licenses, allowing others to use, distribute, and remix your work so long as they give you credit.

However, if you decide to alter the terms of a CC license or grant additional permissions, you should be aware that doing so could void the license. This means that you would no longer be able to call or label the work as “CC” or “CC license” and you could not use any Creative Commons logos, buttons, or other trademarks in connection with your modified material.

CC has also created a Public Domain Mark, which indicates works that are no longer protected by copyright law. These labels are not legally valid tools, but they can be useful for people who wish to share information about how copyright works in the collection of museums and libraries.

Public Domain

There are many types of materials that are in the public domain, including photos, graphics, book covers, illustrations, and charts. Anyone can use these works without seeking permission or paying compensation to the copyright owner, as long as they follow the basic rules of fair use and do not violate copyright laws.

The most obvious example of a work that is in the public domain is an original artwork such as a painting, drawing, or print. This is because a work can enter the public domain once the copyright on it has expired. This can happen when the copyright owner relinquishes all rights to it, such as by transferring ownership to someone else (but this is not a free license).

Another reason that a work may be in the public domain is that it does not have a copyright notice, which used to be a requirement. In some cases, an original work that was published before 1989 is considered to be in the public domain even if it does not have a copyright notice. This is a good rule of thumb for books, but not as easy to apply to images.

A second type of work that is in the public domain is a collection of works, such as an album or an ebook. This means that all of the works in the collection are considered to be in the public domain, regardless of what specific individual pieces are under copyright.

It is also important to remember that when you find a work in the public domain, it is often accompanied by a copyright information statement that details the limitations and restrictions on how you can use it. This can include information about whether you need to obtain permission or credit the original author, and if so how and when that should be done.

You can also check if an image is licensed under a creative commons license, which allows you to use it under certain conditions. These can vary widely, but are generally designed to allow you to modify the terms and conditions of the work.

Copyright infringement

Copyright is an intellectual property (IP) right that protects the creator’s rights to their original creative works. It prohibits copying, distributing, displaying, or otherwise using a work without permission from the copyright owner.

Copyright infringement occurs when someone uses a copyrighted work without authorization, usually for commercial gain. Copyright infringement is not only illegal, but it can also result in civil and criminal penalties, depending on the type of infringement and the copyright owner’s legal rights.

To avoid copyright infringement, copyright owners often mark their work with a watermark to make it clear that the work is protected by copyright law. This helps prevent people from claiming they didn’t know the work was copyrighted, or from using it for commercial purposes.

Another way to avoid infringement is by registering your copyrighted work with the government, which can help you succeed in a lawsuit against a copyright infringer. It can also ensure that a copyright infringer cannot claim that they didn’t know their use was infringing, and that they have to pay damages for the unauthorized use of your work.

A third way to avoid infringement is to obtain a copyright license for your work, which allows others to use it legally. It can be costly, but it may be well worth it in the long run to protect your rights and the rights of other people who use your work legitimately.

Finally, it can be helpful to impose limitations on your use of copyrighted material. This can include obtaining a CLA licence for specific materials, checking that you’re complying with terms of use for direct subscriptions or purchased documents, and avoiding downloading or printing materials from a web site when you have the right to do so.

Infringing on copyright is a complicated issue, and every case is unique. The best way to find out what your legal rights are is to speak with an IP solicitor as soon as you think you’ve infringed on another person’s copyright.


Image copyright is a complex issue that can be very confusing for the uninitiated. If you’re a designer, editor or any other person using content for your site or publication, it’s important to know how images are protected by copyright.

There are a few basic questions you should ask yourself before you use any copyrighted images for your site, presentation or video. The first question is whether you need permission from the owner of that image to use it.

Generally, you need permission from the owner of a work to use that work in any form or medium. That includes photos, music, writings, design and any other type of creative material you might want to use in your website or publication.

If you don’t have access to the original creator of that work, there are still some ways to get permission for your use. For example, some museums and other collections may have licenses that allow for noncommercial use of their digital assets.

When a copyright owner does give you permission to use their work, you need to follow the terms of that license carefully. This usually means that you have to credit the author and make sure you’re not violating any other rights.

You can also check if the image is licensed through Creative Commons, which is a licensing system that allows for noncommercial sharing of images. This is a great way to find free images, but you need to be careful to make sure that you’re not breaking any other licenses or laws.

Another good idea is to check if the image has a watermark or other copyright notation that indicates ownership. Removing a watermark or other notation from an image without permission is a sign of willful infringement and may be grounds for a lawsuit.

The most effective way to avoid copyright infringement is to ensure that all of the images used for your website or publication are created by you, your employees or paid third parties, and that you have the permission of these people to use their images. By following these simple steps, you can avoid a lot of headaches and unnecessary legal costs.

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