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When can you legally use images from the internet?

You just wanted to create a cool project for your school. You decided to make a screen-printed T-shirt. You took an image you love off Google, and then you printed it onto a shirt. Everyone loved it, but when you went to sell it online, you got a notice that you needed to stop. If you didn't, you could face legal action. What happened?

If you've taken images from Google or off social media without permission, you may have violated the law without even knowing it. When you use media for any kind of digital project, you need to make sure you have the right to use those images.

The best way to be sure you have a right to use certain images is to choose images that are royalty-free and fair use approved. Some of these images fall under "creative commons" licensing.

The same thing applies if you are looking for soundbites you can use for projects. You must be certain that soundbites are under creative commons licensing or that they're available for royalty-free use.

If music or graphics aren't under a creative commons license, it's necessary to pay to use them. Depending on the product, some items are available for purchase for personal use, while others may be available for commercial use.

It's important to note that it doesn't matter how old you are or why you're using an image or soundbite. Taking what isn't yours without permission is stealing, regardless of what you're using it for. Look for photos and music with fair use policies, so you don't have to worry about breaking intellectual property law.

Source: ITSE, "Find free and fair use photos," Keith Ferrell, accessed Jan. 4, 2018

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