Martin Ansdell-Smith

ansdell.net images, artwork, some text, online design tools, fonts and icons

… plus some considerations on licences and risks.

Images and artwork

To provide additional material, inspiration, supporting graphics and artwork for publications which I edit (both web and print). I prefer, and mostly use, websites that offer a simple Royalty-Free or free licence and are free or low cost. I have listed below most of the sites that I use. The order reflects the frequency that I use the sites which, in turn, gives an idea of the combination of how often I find what I need there, ease of use, and cost.

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Online design services

Fonts and Typefaces

Icons

The font icons used on the site are from:

Other icons

Subsetting

Subsetting a font, where allowed by its licence, makes, in effect, a new font consisting of a selection of glyphs from the original. When appropriately compressed it should be much smaller than the original font. The icon font used on this site was subsetted using the online service at fontello.com.

Considerations

Copyright

I am not a lawyer and this is only an informal overview. The Wikipedia article on copyright gives more detail.

When using someone else's text, photos, artwork, music, etc. one needs to consider copyright. In most countries, copyright is granted automatically when a work is created and lasts for many years, perhaps longer than a century. To use the work needs permission from the copyright holder, not necessarily the original creator. That permission or licence may define limits on how and when the work can be used. By default, all rights are reserved and are exclusive to the creator of the work. In many jurisdictions there are some allowed, or at least defensible, uses of copyrighted material without explicit permission but these are often not well-defined or are difficult to comply with.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a specific form of copyright licensing to facilitate sharing creativity and knowledge. The Creative Commons website gives the definitive information about the licences. Creative Commons licenses, summarised from the summaries on their website, include

Caveats

A pervasive problem is knowing whether you really can use a work for the purpose you intend. You read the license terms carefully and are certain that your usage is allowed. However, can you be sure that the licensor has the right to grant you that license? Most websites disclaim responsibility for this, even if you pay for a licence. Indeed, many of their Ts&Cs oblige you to indemnify them if problems, including this, arise. Model releases, trademarks, moral rights, international treaties and changes to copyright law increase complexity and risks. For example, images that include identifiable persons, private property or trademarks have additional legal usage constraints.

Whether a work is covered by copyright is equally problematic. Jurisdictions extend copyright terms from time to time, bringing out-of-copyright items back into copyright. Most copyright terms are not linked to years since the work was created (which you may know) but to the death of the creator (which you probably do not know) or some other event. Copyright in the work may have been assigned to a third party. There is no requirement to put a date or copyright holder on a work.

A work may be orphaned: perhaps still within copyright but the copyright holder is unknown or uncontactable. There have been proposals that third parties may be authorised to charge for and issue licences for such works.

Licences can change over time. A copyright owner may release a work under one licence but later change to a different one. If you find an image via a search engine, for example, always check the origin of the image for the current licence(s) available.