Every creation is copyrighted by default. If in doubt whether or not you can use it, ask the creator. If you cannot identify the copyright owner, better don’t use the material. And if you do use someone else’s work, whether with explicit permission or based on a generic license, be sure to credit your source.
That’s copyright in a nutshell, but of course it’s much more complex than this. If you’re wondering under what circumstances you can use images, how you can find the original creator, and where you can find free to use alternatives, expect some answers below.
What Is A Copyright?
Copyright is a legal right created by the law of a country, that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights to its use and distribution, usually for a limited time, with the intention of enabling the creator to receive compensation for their intellectual effort.
Copyright is a very complex subject and deserves its own article, which this one is not. For a quick overview, have a look at these myths surrounding copyright infringement.
In essence, everything someone creates is automatically copyrighted. The absence of a copyright symbol does not affect the intellectual property. Crediting the original creator doesn’t void a violation of their copyright.
While it doesn’t matter whether or how the work was published, copyright can expire and the creation then moves to the public domain.
How To Find The Original Creator & Copyright Owner
Identifying the original source of a particular image can be a challenge. While searching on the Internet is easy, even for images, so is duplicating. If you suspect that an image you would like to use is an illegal copy, try to search for it and you might identify the real copyright holder.
We have previously shown you how to search for similar or identical images online using the image search engine TinEye. Since TinEye entered the market, Google also introduced and improved its own image search. Open Google Images, click the camera icon to search by image and either paste an image URL or upload an image to search with.