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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    7

    Default How to License an Image When You Don't Know Who Created It

    I found a wallpaper on the web that I'd like to use as a background on a website I am building for an academic FBLA project. When I perform a reverse image search on it, I find hundreds of results but not one of them seems to be the original posting. It's most likely that the creator uploaded it on a wallpaper site somewhere (without stating any license information) and it proliferated, or that the "creator" cropped and performed other changes to another image he/she found elsewhere on the web (that may or may not be licensed itself). I can't possibly know for sure. Can I use this image for an academic, non-commercial project without knowing the license or obtaining permission? I read somewhere that you might lose the rights to a piece of intellectual property if you fail to enforce your ownership to a large extent, but I'm not sure. If I can, what phrase should I use to describe my rights to use the image?

    By the way, I know that the chances of getting sued or something for using this image are nil. The website won't even be published. However, I do need to provide some sort of license information for the competition.

    Thanks in advance.

    Edit: also, it's a wood background that isn't highly unique or anything. There are no watermarks or any other text.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    19,901

    Default Re: How to License an Image When You Don't Know Who Created It

    In a word: no. Just because you found something on the Internet and you can't figure out who it belongs to doesn't mean you can steal it for your own purpose. No there is no exception for academic or non-commercial use in general. Using things to back up your website would hardly be considered fair use.

    An author do not lose copyright for failure to prosecute his rights. Get it out of you head that you can just steal other people's stuff. There is NO REQUIREMENT for the owner to watermark, publicly mark, or do anything to have copyright. There is nothing you can put in the way of credit or disclaimer that makes your use legal.

    If your site ever becomes visible on the net, you may find yourself caught. There are a number of things (starting at just google) that will find images or fragments thereof on the net.

    To be safe, there are tons of licensable either free or for charge, royalty free images that are available to you without having to steal.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: How to License an Image When You Don't Know Who Created It

    Thanks for the advice, but no thanks for the constant assertion that I'm a thief trying to steal something if I can get away with it. Something that's too underhanded and dirty for someone like you may be just fine to a pleb like me, but there's no need to be so condescending.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    98,846

    Default Re: How to License an Image When You Don't Know Who Created It

    As a web professional, as you cannot obtain a license for somebody else's image, you should be considering how to commission or create a similar work to which you hold or have duly licensed the rights.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: How to License an Image When You Don't Know Who Created It

    I don't have the skills to create a suitable replacement. I don't have the funds to commission one either, and my chapter won't grant me any. I've looked at hundreds of free-use images and none work. Looks like my only option is to use a much simpler design. Oh well.

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