FREE TO USE =/= FREE TO SELL
TABLES OF CONTENTS
a . . . . . . Introduction
b. . . . . . The Basic Idea
c. . . . . . Need to Know Terms
d. . . . . . Artist's Permissions, Rules, and Licenses
e. . . . . . Commercial Use VS Personal Use
f. . . . . . Free To Use Adoptables
g. . . . . . Bases and Stock Images
h. . . . . . Validating Art Theft
i. . . . . . Research before Using
j. . . . . . Crediting
k. . . . . . Report
The topic of something that is free to use vs. free to sell is a very complex matter that cannot just be set in concrete as black or white. Staff day in and day out constantly see the confusion some users might have when it comes to Stock images/References/ or even random images that can be found on Google. Without a doubt, there is a grey area when it comes to this topic so by gathering as much information as we possible. We hope that this guide will address any/all issues pertaining to it.
Free to Use is a very broad subject and we understand the term confuses people the most. We hope at the end of this guide, you're able to grasp the fundamentals of Free to Use images to protect yourself from accidental copyright infringement and possible legal consequences
b. THE BASIC IDEA
Let's say you're on DeviantArt (or another popular image site that allows users to upload their images) and you found artwork of scenery that would look great in the art piece you've been working on. Now most of the time, the owner of the image will lay out permissions or guidelines of that specific image / of all of their images in general, especially if the image is entitled with Free to Use.
Images that are Free to Use all have their own specific licenses stating what the owner of the image allows others to do with it. Some free to use images have licenses that are only for personal use, and others have licenses that allow you to use it for personal and commercial use.
c. NEED TO KNOW TERMS
Here's a list of terms and definitions that goes over the important words or phrases when it comes to free to use images:
d. ARTIST'S PERMISSIONS, RULES, AND LICENSES
Whenever an artist or owner of an image presents the image as free to use, they're most likely going to have a set of rules and permissions for you on what you can do with that images. They will point out if you're able to sell the image, edit it, redistribute, or use it for personal means. If you're confused on a permission or rule by the owner, you can always contact them and ask to double check. That is the safer option and artists will more than likely prefer you asking over you using your personal judgment!
This is the term of usage for any image under Creative Commons CC0. It specifically states, "To the extent possible under law, uploaders of Pixabay have waived their copyright and related or neighboring rights to these Images and Videos. You are free to adapt and use them for commercial purposes without attributing the original author or source. Although not required, a link back to Pixabay is appreciated."
You are allowed to use and incorporate their images into your artwork and sell it to make a profit. However, even though it's not mandatory, they ask you to credit them whenever you use their images.
e. COMMERCIAL USE VS PERSONAL USE
Commercial use and personal use are two very important terms you need to consider as an artist. It signifies the permissions given to you and others. If the owner of an image specifically states something is only for personal use, then the image cannot be sold or distributed to others, hence personal. If the owner gives permission for you to use it commercially, then you may use it and make a profit from it. This doesn't mean you can find any image that gives you permission to sell it and sell the same exact thing on AH, though.
Reveal spoiler for examples
f. FREE TO USE ADOPTABLES AND ADOPTABLE BASES
You are not allowed to redistribute adoptables that weren't made by you, even if they're free to use. The owner of an image gives a set of rules and permissions and so does AH. If you are given permission to use the adoptable as a reference, then you are free to make an adoptable of your own and sell it that way.
Ideally you want to be creative and authentic in the artwork you create and showcase on AH. Using references and free to use images within the permissions of the original owner and within AH's Guidelines are fine. Copying / Tracing an image completely is not allowed on AH, regardless of it's permissions given by the original owner. The only permissible way you may copy a character design is if you are creating a photo study (cannot be sold or shown as a shop example) or making fanart ( not to be mistaken with tracing / copying an entire image, the fanart must be transformed and elevated to something different.
Please see [ Rules Regarding Fanart ] ) https://gasrforum.net/rules/#ocfanart
g. BASES AND STOCK IMAGES
Just because the owner of a base or stock image is giving something away for free does not mean that you’re allowed to use it for commercial use. Usually, the owner will list rules and permissions of their image and you must abide by them.
Please look over these examples of rules and permissions these owners have given:
The owner of these bases specifically states you may not use the bases for commissions, or commercial use, and for personal use only. You may not trace and must credit them.
Reveal spoiler for more examples
Good to sell as adoptables
✖ Cannot sell as commission, only for personal use.
h. VALIDATING ART THEFT
We've ran across this issue, where a user will claim another artist used the same image as them to validate their own case of art theft. Just because someone committed a wrong doing does not mean in any way you're able to commit the same wrong doing. Everyone is equal and will be treated equally. If a user commits art theft, they will receive a warning or a ban, There's no way around this. Pointing fingers at others will not take distract from the theft you have committed. Credit your sources & read the owner's rules and permissions when dealing with free to use images.
i. RESEARCH BEFORE USING
Make sure you do your research!! It cannot be stressed enough that you should make sure you dig deep for information pertaining to what you want to use. Also be sure you’re at the source of where the image came from. Some websites like to take people’s work and post them on their own site to draw in an audience, without thinking of the consequences of improper crediting. Even if you didn't know the image you were using had rules that you countered, the original owner of the image can still take action against you.
Always credit your sources, especially when you're not the owner of a free to use image. Make sure anything that you credit is correct, especially when you are not the original owner of the image you are using within your artwork. Failure to do so could possibly lead to legal action being taken against you by the owner of the image, and will absolutely lead to a warning/ban here on AH.
There are limits to commercial use, even if the owner has given permission for you to use it commercially. Crediting plays a big factor in free to use images. Just because it's free to use, doesn't mean you can get away without crediting the author.
Image created by: rika-dono @ DeviantArt
This image was used a reference for artwork. The image itself was referenced properly, but the artist did not credit the owner of this image, who is rika-dono @ DeviantArt.
If you spot a member trying to sell a piece that involves a free to use image, when the image's owner themselves state specifically to not sell their image, then report this user. It's considered art theft and we take it very seriously on AH Forum. With your help, we can help intermit this issue!