|The Copyright Symbol|
You go to a website or blog and see something there you think is just way cool. An image, an article, a bit of animation, whatever. And you think, "Wow! That is just too cool. I want to use that on my site" (or "in my comp" or "for my next project"). So, you do a little click-and-hold action (for us MAC folk), and, voilà, you download that sucker.
Congratulations, you have just violated Federal law.
Most of the content you see on the web (and absolutely all of the content on this site) is copyrighted by the original producer of that content. If it's an image, the photographer holds the copyright; if it's text, the author; and so on. And reproducing that content, in any way, without permission of the copyright holder is a violation of Federal law.
No, really...I'm not kidding here.
The content doesn't even have to be registered with the Copyright Office of the US government. See, in the US the moment an original work is created, its copyright is also created and the holder of that copyright is the creator of that work.
And the moment you download it, you have reproduced it (that download is a copy of what was on the site, remember), and you could be in some serious trouble.
The penalties for copyright violation vary, but if the creator hasn't officially registered the material, you're looking at paying damages amounting to the lost value of that content. If he or she has registered it, you're looking at THREE TIMES that, at least. Not to mention all the legal costs you'll get stuck with.
Now, if you're really devious (and I'm sure none of you are, but just in case), you could be thinking, "Well, I'll just do some manipulation to that content, then it's original and I'm home free!" Nope, uh-uh, that's called a "derivative work" and it's just as much of a violation as a simple download.
So, what does that mean for you? Well, I want you to look at my work on both my blog and website. I just ask that you not download or copy anything for any use without contacting me first. I know that many of you are designers and/or bloggers who might want to use an image for a comp or something. That's fine, just ask first please.
To find out more try these fine sites:
Note: Thank you to The Darkroom for permission to reprint this article.