A good content maker uses images to enhance their story, whether they are their own or not. They will always consider copyright and Creative Commons when using an image that is not their own.
There are times as a content maker when for one reason or another you can't take that winning shot yourself and will need to source it elsewhere. Before you jump on Google Images to find that complimentary image for your story, take a moment to consider copyright and Creative Commons.
It is against the law to use someone else's photo in a way they did not intend or without their permission. There are laws in place however that allow content makers to use other people's photos as long as the right precautions are taken. As a rule of thumb, you should always assume that all photos on the internet are copyright protected. The penalty for Copyright breach in Australia is serious - it's the law. We're talking hefty fines and even imprisonment in serious cases like this one.
What is copyright and creative commons?
In a nutshell, copyright is an umbrella law that protects creators of original content whether it be music, photography, art and/or other original and creative ventures. Creative Commons is a non-profit organisation which gives out free licenses and resources to copyright owners that they can use to let others share, reuse and remix their material legally.
So why do people release under a Creative Commons license if it means their work can be used by anyone? Because it makes it clear to people like you and me what we can and cannot do with their material. There are six types of Creative Commons licences which allow material to be used in different ways. Having said this, each type has a core condition called "the Attribution condition" which makes it a requirement that the author of the work is attributed. Icons depicting the 6 types of Creative Commons licenses.
The six types of creative commons licenses | Pixabay
How do I know if an image is under Creative Commons?
There are a lot of photos on the internet so it might be hard to decipher which photos are under Creative Commons. Luckily, the organisation has a foolproof way of finding material you can safely use in your story (as long as you attribute of course!).
All you have to do is type in what you want to find in their search engine and choose which supplementary search engine you would like to find images through. It filters out all the images that aren’t under Creative Commons and leaves you with ones you can safely use in your story. You still need to credit the author (person who originally took or posted the photo).
Have a go at looking up some images through Creative Commons.
I just found the image I want to use and it is under Creative Commons - how do I attribute the photo to the original author?
See the image above? It was taken by someone and uploaded on to Pixabay under a creative commons license that allows us to crop it and use it on our website. With this type of license, we aren't required to attribute the photo to the author but are asked to link the picture to the website it was taken from. To credit the author, you write "Photo credit: Pixabay (license)" making sure you link to the type of creative commons license that the image is under. Usually websites with Creative Commons images available will have a feature that helps you properly credit the author.
The official Creative Commons website
The six types of Creative Commons licenses explained
This article explains Creative Commons in more detail
An official Australian Government document on copyright
PhotoPin is a website with Creative Commons images free for you to use