|Proper use of web sets. Please read even if you're not into making pages (or if you just use one simple background).
While surfing the net, you stumble over a web set that you would really like to use on the home page of your site/group. You have checked things out and have determined that the set is safe to use (you remember how to do that, don't you?). Now what do you do?
First of all do NOT copy it right from the site, either download the zip file (if they offer it) or right click>save as every piece of the set (I do this even if they're are some pieces I may not use – who knows if I might not want to use them in the future). While web set makers don't require you to use every single piece, neither do they want you mixing pieces from other sets together. So, you can't use background 1 from set A and background 2 from set B (and, for heaven's sake, don't use background z from set 2 – ie. mix up sets made by different people). Does this mean you can't add a graphic made by someone else? (i.e. a sig or a plaque or a banner?) No, of course not – just be sure to state it on your page.
People who create link-ware should always be given credit for what they made (and you should have the courtesy to acknowledge the bits they didn't – like a sig, etc.).
Do you have to set it up the exact same way that they did? No, you don't but, if they give you a background code and you use it, be sure to give them credit for that, too (or to whoever you got the code from). If you write your own code, be sure to say that, also.
Do NOT alter ANY of the pieces (unless they give you a blank button to add text to – you can certainly go ahead and add text). Don't resize, colorize, buttonize or edit the pieces in any way.
Now, some sites do have a mix and match type of thing – single backgrounds offered that you can put together however you please. You still should link back (if required) & give credit for codes (if necessary). Can you mix backgrounds made by different people? Personally, I don't mind as long as I get credit for what I made and the others get credit for what they made, but you should alway check for TOU or ask if it's unclear.
If you have problems with a set or need some customization done, be sure to ask for assistance from/email the creator if you can (some won't customize but they may still help you if you have a problem properly installing the sets). Please do not ask anybody else to make any kind of alterations. Reputable graphic makers will NOT edit other people's work. Hmmmm…….another red flag??
Recap: Save the sets/background to your own hard drive, you don't have to use all of the pieces of a set but you can't mix them with others, link back if required (to the artist, too), give credit for as much as you possibly can and do not alter the pieces in any way (except to add text to a blank button). I think you already know you can't offer any of this stuff to others to use, right? Remember, this is for using web sets created by other people – this has nothing to do with seeking permission for/using an artist's work yourself.