Copyright is a touchy subject in the World of Scrapbooking. Especially in Digital and Hybrid Scrapbooking. It’s a lot simpler in the world of Traditional Scrapbooking as you buy an item, you own it and you use it once, however you like, and then it’s used up. You are not allowed to reproduce it or you will violate copyright.
But in the World of Digital Scrapbooking the rules of copyright is a much more complex beast.
Fundamentally you need to understand that what you have purchased is the right to use these digital products for your own personal use in creating your own personal scrapbook layouts.
What you have the right to do:
- Use the products as many times as you wish on your own personal scrapbook layouts
- Make small modifications, such as colour, size and shape changes.
- Share your finished layouts on the Internet through email, blogs, online galleries etc.
- Print your finished layouts and give copies to friends and family if you wish.
What you do not have the right to do:
- Share the actual digital product files with anyone else, either by copying them to a CD, emailing them or copying them on another memory device (eg. USB memory stick)
- Share the digital files or print outs of them with a class of students so you can teach them how to scrapbook.
- Use the digital products in any way that assists in the generation of revenue or other income.
Technically speaking you do not have the right to use these digital products in the design of your personal blog header, unless you have the approval of the designer. Most designers will not mind you using their products in your personal blog design and only ask that you credit them appropriately.
However if you have a commercial blog or website, and this can include any form of advertisements or product sales, then you cannot use these digital products without purchasing a commercial licence. This also includes designing templates for eBay shops etc.
If you stop and think about it, this is not as draconian as it at first sounds. The cost for a personal use licence for your digital scrapbooking products is very small. And typically speaking digital scrapbooking designers don’t charge a great deal extra for a commercial licence. But you need to understand the designers’ rights before you use their products.
Although you may have purchased a ‘right for personal use’ of their product, they still own the Intellectual Property. A lot of time, effort and creativity goes into the design of their products. In the ‘real’ world, if you were setting up any business or commercial concern you would need to pay a commercial price to use the intellectual property of a designer. It’s no different in the world of the Internet. And if you stop and think about it for a moment, it’s only fair. Why should you be able to earn money using a professional designer’s work which was sold at a price geared to personal use?
You should also be aware that a Commercial Use licence is not a ‘free for all’ licence. It does come with restrictions. Whilst you are licenced to use the products for commercial purposes, you are not licenced to reproduce the products and sell them yourself or to use the products on any computer other than the one they are licenced for.
What about Freebies?
Many people think that because something has been given for free it has no value.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Freebie products take as much effort to create as ones that are purchased and exactly the same copyright laws are attached to them. Just because a designer has been generous enough to offer her products at no cost does not diminish the ‘real’ value of them.
Often Freebies will be offered as a means to build traffic to a designer’s website or blog to showcase other products they may be selling or to help build their profile as a designer. As beneficiaries of their generosity we should be mindful of this and respect them.
This means recognizing the copyright ownership as described above and not sharing the files with others. You are actually robbing the designer of traffic and exposure when you share the files. All you need to do is share the URL of the website and your friends can go and freely download the files themselves. The end result for your friends is the same (they have their own copies of the products) but the designer also has a benefit and you haven’t broken the copyright laws. Goodness all round.
So as you can see, Copyright is a complex, tricky business. The Digital Scrapbooking World abounds with wonderful low cost and free products, which keep the overall cost of our wonderful hobby very low. Let’s be mindful of the people who provide those products and not rob them of what is rightfully theirs.
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