|How do you know it's ok to use the graphics offered by certain sites? The thing is, you don't, really, unless you know about copyright. So, now I've made you paranoid, right? Good, you should be, however, with a bit of help and some knowledge you can build your web pages and decorate your posts knowing that you're using "safe graphics."
I once had someone tell me that they could "hit 10 more snag boards today and you never know what I will get." I would like to think that all of you are "safe snaggers" and that you create safe graphics. I would also like to think that if you happen to use an unsafe graphic and you're called on it, that you accept it gracefully and remember that we've all been there. There's no shame in accidentally using a graphic that you shouldn't – the shame comes when you do it on purpose.
If you love graphics, you should be able to commit some time to insuring that you use only those that you're allowed to in the manner the creator wishes them used. Otherwise, you don't really love graphics – what you like is the instant gratification that comes from a whole bunch of other people saying "oooooh, that page/those graphics are so great – nice job" That's something you should have to work for.
What follows is a series of relatively brief lessons that will arm you with the knowledge that you need to feel confident that you're using the safest graphics possible. At the end is a self-quiz so you can reassure yourself that you've learned your lessons well ;).
Once you graduate, you should still be prepared to reassure folks that you're using/offering safe graphics if asked and, if you happen to make a mistake, again, be gracious about it. There's really nothing worse than those who snootily assume that others will blindly take your word (and get all pissy when questioned).
Having said all of that, let me remind everybody that nobody is expected to be the copyright police. As long as YOU do your best to insure that YOU are using safe graphics (and putting "artist unknown" isn't OK), your work is done. Even if you manage a group, this is all that's expected of you – assume that your members have also insured that they are using graphics in the manner the creator intended (even if, *gasp* an image has no credit). The only person that can tell you otherwise is the artist or their agent – which they can do directly or through the website host who would then contact you. IF that happens, just delete the graphic & go on your merry way knowing that you are doing everything as correctly as possible.
Don't hesitate to post or email any questions, comments or concerns.