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Dash of Inspiration: TOU – Terms of Use

June 18, 2012

A Dash of Inspiration, A Cup of Creativity by Doreen

TOU – Terms of Use

Let me begin this week’s discussion about Commercial Use elements and their associated licenses by stating very clearly; “I am no expert”!  What I offer here today is from knowledge acquired during my own research over the past few years of reading and respecting the terms given by the creator for each element I wish to use.  With this information base I can get you on the road to better understanding what to look for and some of the associated terms you’ll find out there.

Here are some definitions to learn and look for as you begin to explore and understand the ‘fine line’ of using photographs and elements created by other artists:

CU = Commercial Use – what this means is that you are allowed to use the image/element in brochures, advertising, blogs, websites, business cards, and so on, but the contributor will often stipulate that you MAY NOT use it for financial gain.  Often when you read what CU means to that creator they will say there are ‘no limitations’ or ‘free to use in your designs’ which means they are giving the okay for CU4CU.

CU4CU = Commercial Use for Commercial Use – you’ll see this sometimes, more on graphics than photographs. This is what we designers at GCU do. We create CU designs to sell in the Commercial Marketplace.

Note:  It’s important to understand that just because something says CU (Commercial Use) that does not necessarily means it’s okay for using in something you plan to resell, like our greeting cards.  Even photographs and art which have been ‘Released to Public Domain’, by law effectively fall into a Creative Commons license of some kind.  Places like Morguefile for example exist for us designers, however these images fall into the Creative Commons law, so it’s important to not only respect the Morguefile TOU, but also look carefully for any additional terms the contributor places on their images.

Adaptation, Derivative Work & Remix –  all mean the same thing:  Any work created by the editing, modification, adaptation or translation of the work in any media. Using as a reference to paint is a derivative work.  Using it as one element of several in a new design is a derivative work.  Using the element in a collage, is a derivative work.

Attribution – means acknowledging all the parties who have contributed to and have rights in the ‘new’ work.

Attribution CC License – This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. Here is a link to the Creative Commons Attribution License Terms.

Here is a link to see the definitions for all types of Creative Commons Licenses:

Creative Commons (CC) Specifics:

Ownership — You may not claim ownership of this image in its original state.  If you do not credit the originator of the work and put your name as the creator, then you are effectively claiming ownership.

Stand alone basis — You can not sell, license, sub-license, rent, transfer or distribute this image exactly as it is without alteration.

Without Attribution — to use without attributing the original author.

NOTE: Two things; 1) Though Morguefile states in their TOU that attribution is not necessary; be careful – many of the contributors do require in their image notes that you credit them. 2)  I personally do not recommend waiving attribution when the element/photograph is recognizable in whole or in part in the new design.  People change their mind, families inherit image rights and change the license; if you want to protect yourself and your creation, then always credit the originator of the elements/photographs you use and do so tastefully on the image itself so those credits stay with the image.

Here is more on that if you missed it:  Credit Where Credit is Due

Hopefully I’ve opened the door to this complex world and you will feel more comfortable stepping through and learning more so you can create unique new works!  To see some gorgeous examples of derivative works using various elements from resources explore deviantART.com here.

“Crying an Ocean” Image by Print-of-Hooves at DeviantART – notice the artist’s notes on the photos used to create this new work

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. June 18, 2012 1:05 pm

    You don’t know how much I appreciate this article! I get so nervous using anything that is not my own because of not understanding how to read the TOUs. I end up creating all my own patterns and paint brushes because of this, and it really limits me. If I can understand the TOUs, it will be so much easier to create the cards I envision.

  2. Angela / Inkflo permalink
    June 18, 2012 2:33 pm

    I’ll second that Doreen.
    My brain seems to get to explosion point sometimes trying to figure out all this.
    You have really helped me to see it more clearly, and I have to say,I for one, really appreciate the time you take to help us all with these things.
    If we can get it right first time, how much better our lives will be!
    Thanks again
    Angela / Inkflo

  3. June 18, 2012 2:46 pm

    Thanks for stopping by Tracie & Angela and you are very welcome for the article. I had brain scramble too a few years ago, but tipped my toes in the deeper end every once in a while to see if I could swim and before I knew it . . . I had more confidence to know that I could meet the TOU of the contributor – it opened up a whole new way of creating for me!

    Good luck to you both!

  4. June 18, 2012 7:54 pm

    Thank you Doreen,
    Ive been a signature tag creator for about 9 years now so I am familiar with most of these terms, but the photos TOU are new to me … and it’s always good to go over these once in awhile and to keep up with new terms. This is a great post to use as a reference to look back on.
    Thanks again for all you do.

  5. Alda - HeartTugs permalink
    June 18, 2012 8:40 pm

    Awesome article. Thank you for the post. I too, have a lot to learn in this area.

  6. June 18, 2012 9:35 pm

    Janet & Alda, you are welcome and thanks for stopping by!

  7. Cathy Gangwer permalink
    June 19, 2012 12:03 am

    Thank You!

  8. Donna Collins permalink
    June 19, 2012 4:36 am

    Great Article, Doreen…I love learning something new everyday…

    Thank You…

    Donna Collins

  9. June 21, 2012 6:30 pm

    Very helpful, Doreen! Thank you! 🙂

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