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Abide by License Terms of Royalty-Free Clip Art

When pulling images off clip art sites or other websites that offer “royalty-free” graphics, be sure to use the images only as allowed by the website where they come from. The ability to use someone else’s graphics — even those that seem unrestricted — is provided through a copyright license. Most websites have “terms of use” describing the conditions on which the images being licensed can be used. Royalty free is not the same thing as “restriction free.” A wide range of limitations might be placed on the allowed use of the image, including only for personal use, not for commercial use, only for a certain number of impressions, only for a certain period of time, only in connection with certain products or services, or not as branding or trademark usage. Although the image may seem available, by exceeding the rights granted, the user risks infringing on the copyright of the owner. Copyright owners have tools to find the users of their images, and a diligent copyright could discover the infringement and claim far greater fees against infringer.

Ned T. Himmelrich