It is a known fact that visual imagery and sound effects bring a presentation alive and help make a lasting impression on your audience. But what would you do if you are not a design expert? Like most others, you tend to fall back on the WWW for pictures and sounds. But most of us tend to ignore the elephant in the room by overlooking the finer print, namely the basic copyright laws and privacy policies associated with downloadable content on the internet.
What is protected or covered under Copyright?
- Written content
- Motion pictures
The list goes on. So, if you want to use any of these from the internet, it is time to revisit the manners we were taught in school. Seek permission from the owner! “Please may I…” remember that?
Beware of these common copyright misconceptions:
- If it doesn’t have a copyrighted trademark it is not under copyright: No…not true - It is still someone else’s hard work. Go back to their website…look for their Intellectual Property rights and policies before even considering to use the content/image.
- If it is not for my business use or to gain profit then it is not a violation: No..most companies have their own fair use or policies for usage of the content. Do take a look and make sure you intended purpose for the content does not violate the usage policies.
- If it is on the internet, then it means it is on the public domain and I am free to use it: Definitely no. You would still need the appropriate licenses to use the content or image.
- Assuming “Fair Use” of the image: If you are using an image or content to comment or express your views on it, then it is “Fair Use”. Go ahead…write down your thoughts and make sure you are linking back to the source. If you are going to use the piece of content, be it an image or article, to promote your own personal/business interests, then you are crossing the line. Commentary, research, reporting of the news and education are some of the purposes that are exempted from the U.S. copyright law.
- “Editorial Use only” watermarks means I can use them for non-commercial purposes: No, “Editorial Use Only” means you cannot use the content for commercial, promotional, advertorial, endorsement, advertising or merchandising purpose. This type of content is not a model or property released and is intended to be used only in connection with events that are newsworthy or of general interest (for example, in a blog, textbook, newspaper or magazine article).
How and Where?
Your head must be already spinning with all those privacy policies and copyright laws written in legalese! You ask “So, Do I have to spend an hour reading the text in minuscule font size, understand the legal language and then download the stuff I want?” Time-consuming and painful though it is, the answer is YES. Unfortunately, when it comes to designing and working on a presentation, you are most often looking for a quick fix. A quick fix basic formatting to the look and feel of your slides or a fast run-through of the content to fix the grammar or a quick Google search to get an image that communicates ten sentences of that crucial slide in the presentation.
Happy Presenting! 🙂