Thursday, March 27, 2008

Keep in the Legal Clear With These Public Domain Photo Sites

On my most recent job I was tasked with recreating a 1-second piece of stock footage that would've otherwise cost 10,000 dollars (!) if we'd decided to pay for it. It was a simple motion graphic that involved otherwise still images set in motion.

To recreate the image and not have us in legal trouble, I went about finding similar images online and compositing them in AfterEffects. But many people don't realize that just because you can download an image off of Google, that doesn't mean someone out there doesn't own a copyright to that image, and you could well get into trouble, especially if you use the image without proper credit and for commercial purposes.

Meanwhile, there's an annoying difference between royalty free and public domain. The first means simply that once you have the proper rights to use the photo, you don't have to pay money every time you use it (or for a set amount of time). However, that may still mean that you need to pay for it the first time around. The latter, public domain, means there are no copyrights on the images at all, and you are free to use it once and in perpetuity. As such public domain photos are by definition royalty free, but not necessarily the other way around. So if you really want to make sure you're in the clear downloading photos, make sure they're public domain.

To make it easier on you guys, here are two resources I've found that compiles a good list of public domain photos (and from where I got the photos I needed for my own project):

instant fundas: 25 sites to find royalty free photos for your websites

Wikipedia: Public domain image resources

And good luck with your projects!

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