So what exactly is protected under copyright? Who owns a copyright? How does one get a copyright?
You don’t have to have a doctorate in law studies to understand how copyright works, you just need to pay attention!
The first thing you need to know is that everything that you create is copyright protected! Original works are protected the instant you finish them.
if you take a selfie of yourself in front of the Eiffel Tower, protected!
If you manipulate a photo you took in photoshop, protected!
If you make a landscape out of Ketchup, Mustard, and Barbecue Sauce, protected!
This is why whenever you look at Google images, every image has a caption that says, “images may be subject to copyright.” Unless an image has been given to a Royalty free website, it is technically copywritten.
If you are looking for images that are free to use, you need to go to a website that posts "public domain" images like morguefile.com or public-domain-image.com.
One thing that has been really handy for me lately is the “Search Tools" in Google Images. Once you click on that it allows you to select “Labeled for reuse.” This filters all the google images ones that have been labeled as public domain. This is AWESOME because now I don’t have to go to 20 different sites to find an image that perfectly fits my purpose, I can just go to Google!
But more than just images are protected. There is also literary works, musical works, dramatic works, choreographic works, graphic design, sculptural works, motion pictures, sound recordings, and architectural works.
Rules, rules, rules! “What,” you may ask, “is not copyright protected?”
- Ideas, procedures, or discoveries
- The ingredients of the recipe are not copyrightable, but the instructions are.
- Titles, names, short phrases, or slogans
- Skittles “Taste the Rainbow” is not copyrightable, but it can be trademark protected (which is a topic for another day :)
- Facts, news, and research
- A standard calendar is not copyrightable.
- Works made free by the creator
- Anything distributed by the U.S. Government.
- Anything posted on a public domain website (like morguefile.com)
- Works not fixed in a “tangible expression”
- Impromptu speeches that are not written or recorded
There are a lot of content out there (especially on the internet) that seems to be free to use, but the truth of the matter is that they are not! But take heart! There are ways to find what you need, you just need to do some digging! (or use some money :)