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Seb Anthony

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Copyright on images


Does anyone have clear and definitive information about copyright as it applies to images taken from clip art files? I have found out, through doing a web search, that it is not legal, unfortunately, to copy images taken off the web (for instance, through a Google image search), even for non-commercial training purposes. However, I am not clear about the use of images taken from clip art. I know that we can use images licensed for use on our network server in our training materials. We are also going to buy CD roms with more clip art pictures, but our IT manager has said that these would only be licensed for one machine so we would need multiple CDs if several of us want to use them. What is the situation, however, if one of us gives clip art pictures on, for example, a handout or a Word file, to a colleague (either in-house or in another organisation)? Are they then legally allowed to copy and paste the clip art image and use it in another document (handout, PowerPoint presentation, etc.)?
cynthia shuken

3 Responses

  1. Copy right
    The licence to use clip art is specific to each piece of software.

    Therefore only general advice can be given but your IT manager is right only one licence for one machine to load the software is normal.

    You need either seperate licences or a network multi user licence.

    Most licences also prohibit the use of the art work in any other form of reproduction so NO photo copying or reproduction onto a Word doc for other trainers as to do so will be in breach of the licence.

    Your use of the clip art for commercial purposes should also be looked at as most of the cheaper software also prohibts anything other than personal use.

    So you can use it on a birthday card but not on commercially distributed training material.

    It pays to look at the licence in full. In the law the ‘devil is always in the detail’ ( small print).

    Remember also that your employer has the burden of any breach and in most employment contracts this sort of breach by an employee would be serious.

    So please take care to get the right licence before you start to commercially distribute it.

    Software licence providers do take court action to prevent this and also for damages so it is not worth the hassle.

    You can also get from the web ( albeit a mixed bag in terms of quality) a variety of Royalty free clip art, a search on google for royalty free clip art produces thousands but here are two , one is pay per month other is free.
    0870 241 3998

  2. Software licenses, open source and clip-art
    I sympathise with your concern. Software licensing legalities for standalone and networked systems is highly complex. A great deal depends on the IT System, software, what the license states how it has been purchased and whether or not it is legal for use. Your software manufacturer is the only source that can give you specific advice on copying hard copy output of graphic images.

    If we are talking of Microsoft products, they have a very large section on their site devoted to this issue. If in doubt I strongly recommend you contact them because no-one else can give the correct legal advice on their products. Although I would not stake my life on it, I analysed Microsoft’s site last year for a research project. Although my memory may have mis-served I think you may be able to reproduce hard copy output of Microsoft clip art for non-commercial use. While I imagine copying their clipart for internal training programmes may be seen as an acceptable use, Microsoft’s regulations may have changed and this you will need to check for yourself.

    I note your IT manager did not mention the Open Source IT community which develops excellent software provided on a non-chargeable basis that really does put so-called industry-standards to shame.

    And precisely for the reasons you raise, I am evaluating open source for my business because I have found that IT suppliers seem as confused by their statutory duties and thus are often unable to provide adequate advice to their customers and end-users.

    I hope that has been of help.
    As with anything off the net you will need to virus check.

    I have included links for 2-3 sites which have helped to transform my views of the IT industry.

    This link offers excellent clipart. The site is in German but shouldnt deter you.

    For general information on open source and the licensing arrangements which are a pre-requisite to be classed as open source software:

    For other open source software: (potentially other clipart products).


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