We live in an age of diversity and the ability to access millions of images, graphics, fonts, and other forms of digital art with a click of a button. With the rise of mass marketing and our digital relationships, finding free downloadable clipart, photos, and fonts is far easier than it used to be.
As a former teacher, I know how much has changed since I was in the classroom only a couple of years ago. There once was a time when we had to hunt people down to find something we needed, but now, we can sit at home in our pajamas and access thousands of resources within minutes.
However, these benefits do not come without a price. We do not have the freedom to use the images, clipart, and fonts we find on the web without permission. Here is something I wrote that you might want to recite to yourself.
For the purpose of this post, the word "it" refers to clipart, photos, fonts, and other digital resources found online.
If I did not create "it", then I need permission to use "it"!
This small quote will help you decide whether or not you should use a digital image or font in your TpT free or paid products.
Now onto some jargon...
What does this/that mean?
Now in English.... Copyright protects your work. Copyright laws, although in place to protect intellectual property and digital work (Digital Millennium Copyright Act ), can do nothing for you in a case of copyright infringement unless you can prove you are the original creator of the work in question.
I am not going to explain in detail what steps to take to make sure your work is protected; however, I will tell you that you do NOT need to file or register your work to be protected.
Click the links below to find out more information pertaining to copyright:1. What does copyright protect?
2. When is my work protected?
3. Do I have to register with your office to be protected?
4. Why should I register my work if copyright protection is automatic?
5. I’ve heard about a “poor man’s copyright.” What is it?
6. Is my copyright good in other countries?
Those of you who create TpT products might feel a little comfort in knowing that when you publish your product online, a digital stamp or date of publication is created. That date can be used to determine the original creator if a dispute should arise.
As a Teachers Pay Teachers Seller/ Online Business Owner, you need to know that the work of others is protected under the law.for Clipart and Fonts:
Do not use, copy, re-sell, or post anything without permission.
Do not use, copy, re-sell, or post anything without permission.
For myself, I must depend on my art and my talents to put food on the table and pay the bills. I am able to bless my family as well as fellow sellers who create amazing resources by making my art available on TpT and my other online stores. I am always honored when anyone uses my art to improve the quality of their product, however, I do expect for my hard work to be respected, protected, and attributed.
Refers to the use of ANYTHING (clipart, photos, fonts, reference materials, etc) that you plan to use in AnYTHING (web design, products, hard goods, digital scrapbooking, digital books, etc) that generates an income.
If you plan to use the clipart or font in a resource that you hope will generate an income for you, then you will need to make sure you have permission to do so.
Because... in order to use the clipart and/or fonts in products that will generate an income, the artist may have included specific guidelines that you MUST respect and follow. Remember, you are using work from another business owner in order to improve the quality of your own work. Both the artist and user must respect each other's businesses and hard work.
Using images in products you sell without abiding by all of the terms stated by the artists' work you are choosing to use is called COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT. Copyright infringement can lead to a lawsuit and/or the loss of your online shop(s). In some cases, a lawsuit could include having to pay thousands of dollars or writing an embarrassing letter to all of your clients about your actions.
For this next part, I am only going to focus on the specifics of various restrictions in terms of using clipart and fonts in TpT products only.... there are many other terms and restrictions on commercial use clipart/fonts that pertain to other uses besides teaching materials. Please be very aware of those terms and restrictions if you plan on making hard goods or things to sell on Etsy with the art/fonts.
Topics to consider when choosing commercial use clipart:
1. Check to make sure an additional fee is not needed to use the clipart or fonts in your products. If additional fees are required, decide whether it is worth the business investment to improve your products. If it is, then pay up and make sure to give the artist lots of love. If you do not feel that the art is worth the investment, then find another artist. There are many talented people on TpT!!!
Please be sure not to insult an artist. I have read comments from various people complaining about the price of clipart or fonts and I am always saddened when I see this happen. The artist is running a business as well and you are hoping to profit from the artists' work. Do not insult someone's hard work by complaining about the price. If the price is too high for you, then find an affordable alternative. Purchasing clipart and fonts are important business investments that will greatly increase your revenue. Be blessed that there are artists willing to share their work at an affordable price. Publishers pay thousands of dollars for the images used in books, websites, and printed materials. If an artists' work is good, then paying a bit more will be worth it to the success of your business in the long run. PLUS ALSO (in my best Junie B voice), you are supporting creative and wonderful artists when you purchase high quality graphics and fonts... you are blessing someone while being blessed.... don't be stingy on your blessings.. haha
2. Limited printing or selling caps placed on commercial use terms. Some artists want additional fees if a seller plans to sell more than 1000 units of a product that contains their art. Remember, this is not unreasonable from the artists' standpoint, but you will need to decide if this is a term you're willing to abide by. Most sellers LOATH terms like these (hints to artists out there who might be just starting out). It requires that they keep track of the particular products that contain those images, track the quantity sold, and make sure to contact the artist to purchase additional license fees should their product become popular.
As a former teacher: Ain't Nobody Got Time for Dat!
Possibly... the personal Meta-log of an artist... Wow, ______ is making lots of money from the $5.00 set they purchased from me... I need to monetize on this somehow.
*Artists who do not sell teaching materials may not realize that, although the art improves the overall quality of a product, it is the content (not the art) that makes a product popular or not.
Me: I would not even want to begin having to monitor this.... price includes commercial use license... for life... no matter how popular you get. And I hope everyone who uses my art does get popular... that is great for business!! haha!! I would not want to penalize success in any way.
Well, I guess my response had a little bit of teacher and a little bit of artist in the mix...
3. May not be used in Smartboard resources. Many artists prohibit their art from being used in Smartboard resources offered for free or placed up for sale. This is because there is no way to secure and protect their work from people who purchase those products. When someone downloads a purchased Smartboard file, the included clipart images are not secured and can be stolen and used by the buyer. This poses many problems for artists. The purchaser of the product did not pay for the art and is, most likely, unaware of the terms or copyright restrictions. When you purchase clipart or fonts, you hold the licence to use the art, but your buyers do not. If you love your artist(s), then make sure you protect their work and they will love you right back. Always email the artist if you are unsure about using the images.
5. Images may not be used in blog posts. This one probably applies to every artist I know; including myself. Please DO NOT upload copyrighted images in your posts. Even if the images are used innocently to brighten a post, you are giving those images away to every person who visits your blog....for free... DON'T DO IT.... It is like using profanity with copyrighted images and it hurts the artist and his/her business. There are ways to add images to a blog post without compromising the art through code or with a program.
6. The artist who sells copyrighted and trademarked images... BIG NO NO!!! Characters in books and in movies are copyrighted and protected under the United States Copyright Law. Just because they can draw it and sell it, doesn't mean you are protected. YOU know better!! No matter how tempting, do NOT purchase clip art containing images of copyrighted art and characters to use in products you plan to sell. Creating quality resources takes a great deal of time and planning! These materials don't create themselves... If you choose to purchase these clipart sets, you put yourself AND your buyers at risk!!
As an artist offering commercial use of images I create, I have a duty to protect myself and my buyers from possible copyright infringement lawsuits. Just stay away from these sets. There are alternatives to the copyrighted images that will work just as well with your resources... Instead of purchasing a set of clipart titled, "Pete the Cat", and includes replicas of the book characters in the set... instead, find a set of cute cats images with shoes that are not replicas of the book character. You will get the same result in your resource without having to worry whether or not you will be asked to take the product down from your shop.
Important NOTE to TpT Sellers: If you receive a cease and desist letter through TpT, and are found "guilty" of copyright infringement, then you will also receive a "strike" against your shop. After three strikes, your shop can and will most likely be shut down. Read the TPT Terms of Service for more information. Taking risks, such as purchasing clipart of copyrighted images, is not worth the investment in the longevity and success of your business.
JUST SAY NO to COPYRIGHTED IMAGES
..... Friends help friends say NO, by sharing the knowledge!!!
7. Attribution Required for personal and commercial use. Most of the artists on TPT do not require that you purchase an extra license for commercial use, but that you do include an attribution in your file where the images are used. Most artists include a link and/or an image you can include in your file for the credit/attribution. You must follow the terms of each artist. Some artist's require that a link be placed on EVERY page the clipart is used, while others only require that you place the credit somewhere in your file.
8. NOT to be used with "other" clipart images. I have only ever read this once, and I can't even remember where I saw it. Some artist's might not want their images used with images from competing artists. They want to be the movie star of your resource..(don't we all..haha). In these circumstances, make sure that you can create a complete resource using the images provided by that artist or company. Decide whether or not you want to invest. Remember, there are plenty of creatives in the sea!!! Many of whom will even create custom art for a product you are creating!! Find a few favorite artists and spoil them.... we are like the maintenance staff at the school (but with a fancier title). In a jam, we can whip up a side of whatever is in your imagination... just like the maintenance person you spoil to death will help save you time by changing your trash bin for you, or helping you move a few things, or fix a light that is out. The artist's are the gems to having a successful TpT business.. and I am not just saying that because I am an artist...
BUT I am a gem... just ask my husband... there can only be one of me in this world!!
I also create teaching materials and I know how important it is to have quality art and attractive layouts and covers. You catch their eyes with what's on the outside, but you gain their hearts when they fall in love with what's on the inside.... If an artist has your heart, you will have "her" passion and "her" help when you need it.
9. There are no terms included. RUN!! Just kidding... just go on a hunt to contact the artist. If you like the font or the art enough, you will hunt him/her down. NEVER assume that you can use clipart or fonts in your products when you can't find the terms. Sometimes, many artists will offer single freebies on their blogs (like I do) or elsewhere and the link to the terms in the post, but not on the image. Just do a little digging and you will find what you need. If you can't find the artist or the terms, then toss out that image. You DO NOT have permission until you have permission...
10. Last, but not least: IMAGES MUST be secured and/or flattened. This is often required for personal and commercial use.
I saved this term/topic for last becasue it is the MOST important term/topic to follow.... let me say this once more...
THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT TERM TO FOLLOW...
Securing the images efficiently will benefit both you and the artist. You will benefit, because you will continue to create unique resources. If you give everyone who buys your products free clipart (by failing to secure the images), they will create similar resources and not have to pay for the images. They might also take your idea and improve it and surpass you in sales. Don't hurt your own business by making it easy for sellers to copy your work. If they want to create a resource with similar images... make them invest their own money into a business, instead of mooching freebies from your work.
You might not even be aware that the images you are using are not secure. Protect the artists' work as you would your own work.
If you convert a file to a PDF... and that is all.... that PDF is NOT SECURED!!!! Let me write this in another way...
Converting a file to a PDF does NOT secure the file!!!
The copyrighted images must be flattened or secured with a password; disabling the ability to right click on images and copy or save them from within your product. If you can right click and copy/save the image, then you have NOT secured the clipart.
2. How to group images in Microsoft Word. This will show you how to group/flatten images so they are not clickable when converted to a PDF.
3. Flatten images in PowerPoint by saving your presentation pages as individual jpeg or png images before converting to PDF to secure copyrighted images.
You can NOT arrange clipart images to make a frame to sell, or sell single pages as printable clipart for people to cut out, or create coloring books using clipart to sell. You are selling the someone else's work when you do this. Just as you wouldn't want someone purchasing your file, putting their name on it, and re-selling it as their own, neither do the artists want to see only their images in a file with your name on it. It is still not okay to do this even if you give credit to the artist.
IF YOU REMOVE ALL OF THE CLIP ART AND THERE IS NOTHING LEFT TO SELL, THEN YOU ARE IN VIOLATION OF COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT...
If, however, you remove all of the clipart and you still have an original resource that could be sold, you get an A PLUS from me!!! If you include pages within your resource that includes printable cards with the clipart, this is alright. As long as the entire file is not printable clipart pages. Again, if you are not sure, ask the artist....
Vocabulary cards with clipart and text :YES
Vocabulary cards with clipart and nothing else: NO
PERSONAL USE: Things you create for yourself and your personal classroom ONLY.
You may not use personal use clipart images in free resources, shared files, or products for sale.
Personal use means PERSONAL USE. Only the person who purchased the clipart or fonts may use the clipart or fonts for things made for him/herself.... that's you...
Library of Congress: Copyright & Primary Sources (an interactive video to explain the use of copyrighted materials as references in work)
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