What follows are a few "red flags" that you should look for when determining whether or not to use the graphics provided by a website/group:
- If there's a statement that says "found on the net" or "found free for use." Very little is actually "free" to use and, what is, is certainly not to be offered for download elsewhere. I don't care if it's a sig with your name on it – if it wasn't made for you, don't use it!
- If you notice easily recognizable graphics such as Looney Tunes or Disney or something you see on greeting cards – most of these are big copyright no-no's!
- If you notice that the graphics being offered or posted are a hodge-podge of different watermarks – for example, below is something I made so you should only see it being offered by me:
Others may use it to decorate their posts or pages (that's what I made it for) but they cannot offer it for download.
- If you notice one or more of the above and see "if you find anything that belongs to you, just let us know and we'll remove it." While there are certain circumstances where it's advisable to use a statement like that, a group/site offering graphicsfor you to download really shouldn't be one of them.
- If they are trying to employ the "Fair Use Act" &/or have a disclaimer – there will be more on this later, just something to keep in mind.
So, what did we learn here? When in doubt, just say no; there is little actually "free for use"; people can not offer things they did not make; if it wasn't made for you, don not use it (even if it's a sig that happens to have your name on it); and you can not hide behind disclaimers or the Fair Use Act. Please keep in mind all of this does not just hold for siggys, snags and tags – it goes for background, buttons, dividers (ie. page graphics) as well as fonts, too.