Public Domain Graphics Images  

With increase in the usage of the Internet, the accessibility to information has definitely increased manifolds, but at the same time there is high risk of intentionally or unintentionally violating the copyright law.

Many websites have a huge repository of graphic images which can be accessed with just a single click. However, it is vital to understand that all images on the Internet are not automatically on public domain. Not all images are free for use without the approval of the owner or creator.

As per the copyright law in the United States, any written document, drawing, image, music composition or software in tangible form is naturally under protection by this law even if the owner has not registered formally with the office of the copyright. Therefore, all images on the Internet unless stated as being in public domain are actually protected by copyright law and it is definitely illegal to use it without the approval of the copyright owner.

However, there are a lot of photographers, who themselves place their images on specific websites and give their approval for general usage with certain specifications. It is important to read and accept these terms to avoid legal repercussions. Many photographers only seek credit for their work so may lay down the condition of citation. There are others who pen down the areas in which the images can be used. Many prohibit users from utilizing their work at business sites that may have monetary gain as an objective. Thus, it is always advisable to select only those images for use that have certain comprehensible instructions from the owner so that one is not held responsible for erroneous usage later.

An image in public domain can be used without any apprehensions. However, only those images end up in public domain that have either not fulfilled the requisites to be under copyright law or their protection rights have expired. However, the latter reason may not be possible in the case of images on the Internet as this technology is relatively new for any matter to enter into public domain after expiration. Sometimes images land up into public domain due to ambiguity on ownership issues.

There are some royalty free images also available that may be mistaken with public domain. There is a fundamental difference between these two categories. Royalty free does not mean really free of charge as in the case of public domain. It signifies that the user will have to pay only once to use the image and not each time as is generally followed in the cases of royalties.
 

Thus, the only images that are really free are those in public domain, provided one has ensured that it is truly so.

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