Copyright Law and Public Domain

‘New’ ideas are built on top of what already exists. 

Artists, authors, designers, and engineers may look like they are alone when they are working, but every creative knows that the things they produce are aggregates— with their own personal flair mixed in.

Like the famous Sagrada Familia it has taken five generations of builders to bring Antoni Gaudi’s grand vision to light. 

In the internet age, creatives turn to the worldwide web for inspiration— be it for photography, soundtracks or clip art.

Too many people believe that everything online is free. It’s not.

If you use media without proper licensing or permission, you could face a copyright infringement lawsuit, or get flagged on YouTube for improper use.

As a creative, it is important to understand how copyright works, what is protected, and when something is available for free use.

Copyright laws, in general, protect a creation from being copied for the life of the artist, plus 70 years.  After that, the piece enters the Public Domain. (SBTEA)

Public Domain works are 100% free for private and commercial use and do not require attribution.

Lawrence Lessig’s lectures and books help artists safely navigate the muddy waters of fair use. He is largely responsible for establishing an ever-growing community of photographers, artists, illustrators, videographers and musicians who support creativity by contributing current work to the Public Domain.

Copyright Law recommended reading.

Click here for Lisa’s extensive collection of public domain images, music, sound,  and video clips.

Pixabay.com Member Spotlight

If you are an author, teacher, blogger, web designer, or any type of content creator, I recommend that you run – not walk – to Pixabay.com. It will quickly become your go-to place for powerful (and free!) photos, illustrations, vector graphics and video clips that pack a punch.

I interviewed a few Pixabay members to find out more about what makes this creative resource so enchanting.

Every interviewee had a story about rejected images. Universally, they took this as a challenge to produce and submit higher quality content.

For the curious, the links below explain Pixabay’s standards and image rating system.

Pixabay Image Quality Standards
Help decide which images get published

Pixabay Video Quality Standards

In each photo strip below, you will find the Pixabay member’s profile name and several samples of the type of work that they donate. Clicking on the photo strip or the link on their name, directs you to their Pixabay page.

Adina Voicu, Romaniaadina

Adina teaches foreign languages and literature. She works with students between the ages of 15-19. She uses images from Pixabay in some of her school projects and has donated over 2,000 of her own images to the site.

Pixabay is always open on Adina’s computer. She loves seeing what is new on the site, chatting with other photographers and seeing the feedback messages on her images.

“I live and breathe photography,” Adina says. “It is a way to get to know myself better.”couple-1008699_640

When asked about why she donates her images, she comments, “I have always shared things. What is more wonderful than sharing joy?”

In Romania, Adina lived under communist rule. ” We were not allowed to go abroad and knew nothing about the outside world. We only had two TV channels that broadcast about 4 hours each day. The electricity went off at 10 every night. Children were taught to fear their teachers and were punished for giving wrong answers.”
She remembers December 1989 – the revolution – like it was yesterday. “The first time I heard Michael Jackson on the radio. Wowww!”
“We live in a democracy now, but it is very misunderstood. There is chaos everywhere: in the medical system, the educational system, and with laws that change twice a year,” she says.
“I have been fortunate enough to travel. When I return, I try bringing home aspects from the more civilized countries.”
Pixabay and sharing images with people worldwide helps Adina feel connected outside of Romania. She hopes that this feeling communicates itself to the students in her life.

Venita Oberholster, South Africa
artst bee

Venita is an oil painter, vintage clip art designer and corporate Course Developer and Business owner of Step Across Training. She creates educational clip art and designs learning materials for South African school children.

“I really enjoy sharing my work with people all over the world. And I like getting positive responses from people who use it for personal or business projects. I hope that it will provide a platform for future graphic designers and for people to use for custom assignments. “science-1018806_640

“Pixabay has taught me the importance of high quality images and copyright principles. When I first started upolading images, it was disheartening because a good percent of them were rejected. However, I took this as a personal challenge to improve my standards.”

Click here to visit Venita’s Artsy Bee Images website.

Steve Buissinne, South Africastevepb

“Across the world people speak in 6500 languages, but we all see in only one.”

“Beauty can be found in the most unlikely places.” – Steve Buissinne

Almost 12 years ago, Steve and his wife retired to a small farm in the Eastern Highlands of South Africa. He took with him his SLR camera and a developing interest in photography. “It is an inward-looking or egocentric pastime that developed into a challenging and interesting hobby that has a use to others at the same time.”

In 2013, Steve was searching the internet for photos that he could use on a website for a local firefighters association when he discovered Pixabay.He liked the interface and was inspired by the images. So much so that he decided to upload a few of his own.

Rejections became a motivation to improve. Since then Steve’s been working on his lighting and photo styling techniques. He enjoys working with food  and everyday items used in the home, ‘because they don’t move.’ To date, Steve has uploaded 325 images. One hundred and seventeen of those have received Editor’s Choice Awards.

“It seems as though there are thousands of cooking, health and well-beintax-468440_640g blogs that need images,” says Steve. “The most downloaded of my photos is one that is used in blogs about the prosaic and everyday evil – Tax.”

“I love the site and enjoy all aspects of it. Simon and Hans, have created a fantastic resource that is a privilege to be a part of.”

Now, Steve often plans photo sessions specifically for images that he will upload on Pixabay. “Since I joined Pixabay, photography has become more enjoyable.”

Thomas Breher, Germany
Thomas breher TBIT

Thomas is a freelance graphic designer and developer.  His company is TBIT Design. He first discovered Pixabay when it was mentioned in a marketing forum article.
“I frequently use Pixabay images on my blog and in projects that I design for clients. Since I regularly download images, I decided to donate my own. Pixabay is a community about mutual giving and taking,” comments Thomas.camera-lenses-946404_640
When he works with people who have specific ideas about images that they want for their job, Thomas sends them to Pixabay to help narrow down the choices.
His favorite aspects of Pixabay community are the comments and ratings. “And every few weeks I receive a small donation,” he says.
I can relate to the excitement that is felt when a donation comes in. The first time that I received one, I had completed a photography job for $150. Later that day, a Pixabay donation arrived in the amount of $1.50. The elation that I feel about that donation STILL has me smiling!
When thinking about making a donation to an image author, Simon Steinberger, simon profilePixabay co-founder and CEO says, “We have several image authors who are particularly active and who offer a lot of images. You could concentrate on them – they’ve definitely earned it! An example that comes to mind is Geralt. He is power creator.”
A note of caution: If you pop over to check out Pixabay.com, be prepared to spend a lot of time there. The site is so luscious, that you’ll never want to leave!
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The inspiration for this article came as I reached a personal Pixabay milestone. I made my 100th image donation on the website. 

Related article: Pixabay.com: A Powerful Free-Source for the Serious Blog, Tweet, Book or School