Frequently UNAsked Questions About WEB Netiquette

  What's Discussed Below:

  1. Acquiring images from other sites.
  2. Information about copyrighted images and using them on your Page.
  3. A bit of information about graphic collection sites.
  4. Giving credit where credit is due.
  5. Why you shouldn't link to another site to display images on your Page.
If I see a picture on somebody else's Page, can I put it on my Page?

Generally speaking, no. The person may have created the image just for their Page or paid someone else to draw it, it may be licensed for their use only, or it may have been copyrighted and shouldn't be on their Page, either. With the exception of free graphics sites, you should always send an email to the owner of the Page, asking permission before taking any graphics. Note: Be sure to ask if they are the artist of the image; some folks apparently don't understand that they have no right to give away somebody else's work.

What is a copyrighted image? Can I display copyrighted images on my Home Page?

Copyright law states that something is copyrighted as soon as it is written down or saved; therefore, every image you see is copyrighted. The important part of the copyright is the usage specified by the copyright holder. The artist can specify a wide variety of usage permission rules: free for any use, free for use only in a non-commercial environment, free for use only w/credit or w/specific permission, etc. A copyright expires 75 years after the death of the artist/author, unless an heir extends the copyright.

From the US Copyright Office: "Copyright protects 'original works of authorship' that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. The fixation need not be directly perceptible ... Copyrightable works include ... pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works. No publication or registration or other action in the Copyright Office is required to secure copyright. ... The use of a copyright notice is no longer required under U.S. law, although it is often beneficial. "

From The Copyright Website: "... copyrightable works may enter the public domain if the copyright owner gives the work to the public domain. However, the copyright owner must specifically grant the work to the public domain."

You should comply with whatever copyright restrictions have been specified by the artist for the usage of the graphic(s). If none is specified, ask - don't presume that you can take it.

What about graphic collection sites and copyrights?

A collection of graphics can be copyrighted; however, the compilation cannot revise, restrict, or negate the artist's original copyright. For example, the collector may request a link if you display images from the collection -- but you must also show the copyright notice from the original artist, if any, when you display the image.

It is largely your responsibility to decide if the collection site is complying with copyright restrictions; you decide if a disclaimer of, for example, "as far as we are aware, all graphics here are not copyrighted" is enough for you to feel comfortable in using those graphics.

Do I have to show credit for every image I use?

You should always abide by the copyright restrictions of the original artist. Too, if you show credit for some images on your Page, you should show credit for all images to avoid confusion.  Preferably, you should show credit for images on the same page as the image.

Do I have to download the images? Can I just link to your server?

Yes, you MUST download the images, then FTP or upload them to your own ISP. No, you cannot just link to my server to display the images at your site - nor in your chat program, your email, or anywhere else.

This holds true everywhere on the Web -- unless the owner of the Home Page has specifically given you permission to direct-link, you absolutely, positively MUST NOT do it. In other words: Do not include anyone else's URL in the BODY BACKGROUND or IMG SRC tags. The same holds true for all other files as well: text files, sound files, etc.

Many people pay their ISP for storage space; some also have to pay for additional hits over the ISP's standard rate. If you direct-link to their ISP, that means they are paying for visitors to their own site -- and are paying for visitors to YOUR site. In addition, when a web browser has to seek out several servers for images, the display time for the Page slows down considerably. If you don't know how to save or set up an image on your Home Page, ask the person whose Page it is on.

What will happen to me if I link directly to somebody else's server for graphics?

Many web sites frequently change the names of their graphics to thwart such attempts -- your visitors will then see broken images. Other websites will replace the image with a graphic that announces to the world that you are a bandwidth thief. When you are caught, you will almost always be turned into your ISP, and you may find yourself without your Home Page as a result of your abuse. A claim of "I didn't know better," "I only have WebTV and can't download," or "My free ISP doesn't give me enough storage space" is insufficient defense - just don't do it.

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