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Forums » Help » Copyrighted images for profiles?

Hi there! I’d like to ask about standard practice for using other people’s art in character profiles. Is there a format for citing the artist and/or source?

My drawing skills are quite abysmal, and I’m not cruel enough to my characters to attempt to draw them. There are plenty of images online which are close enough references, but I want to be sure that I give proper credit to the creators.
A quick note first: for it to be fully proper, you should be obtaining the creator's permission, whether that's by sending a request or sticking to things explicitly licenced to be useable. (Personal use is sufficient, commercial use is only for things you'd try profiting from.)

That said, the simplest attribution/citing option would be to fill out the labelling on images added to a gallery widget. If you're just placing individual images around in the text widgets, I've seen text formatted to be subtitles placed with them, and I've seen little notes added to either the top or bottom of the page to keep it more out of the way. Should still include the artists name at minimum, but including a link to the artist's page (profile, portfolio, page for that specific image, whatever works) is encouraged. If the artist has defined any specific attribution requirements, follow them.

You'll likely see some folks who just have a little note that vaguely says something like "all images copyright to their creators." It does at least imply the person displaying them isn't the creator and isn't taking credit... but ethically it's incredibly lazy, and legally it's totally useless. That vague statement is legally no different from just saying nothing, as those images have still been disconnected from their creators, and the creators are receiving no benefit whatsoever.
Ihsan997 Topic Starter

Thank you so much for the detailed answer. This seems very fair toward the artists as well as adherent to copyright law. I’ve attempted to fill out such a label providing attribution and a link in the profile of my first character, so I hope that the creator of the art receives the respect they deserve.

A subsequent question I have is that for stock photos. If a person uses an image from Shutterstock, for example, can they just credit Shutterstock? Or should the individual artist/photographer also be mentioned?
I think that stock images usually have rules for use stated on the page or a page readily linked to. It's going to vary both by who the creator is and what site you're getting it from. Generally, the credit should still be given to the creator, but in more official/commercial documents I have noticed that they often also mention the resource that was hosting it. At the same time, a lot of stock art/photos doesn't require any attribution (but this shouldn't be universally assumed). There may be times when the host is the creator though, or at least the legal copyright holder, and no other creator appears. And, well... the idea is to name the legal copyright holder. That's why, as an example, you see things copyrighted to companies like Disney and whatnot instead of to individuals, even when some of those works probably weren't created in-house.

Something to watch for is Creative Commons licences. These works still count as copyrighted, but Creative Commons was developed to make licencing easier for both creator and user, basically allowing the creator to build a licence from some standardized options that's both easy to read and legally functional, along with phrases and icons that can work as a TL;DR since the licensing options are, indeed, standardized. It is possible for a Creative Commons licence to forbid any use, or to place sharp restrictions on the use, but it's more common for it to be used for images that are, indeed, meant to be used. Legal use may require pay (and I think this has been growing more common), or may be free; it may require one form or another of attribution, or it may state that attribution isn't needed, or only needed in certain cases. It may allow commercial use, or it may be personal use only. (Oh, educational or non-profit uses also appear, but again, for just setting up a character profile here, it's personal use.) It's set up to be able to learn those details pretty quick and easy, though.
Please note that it is against site rules to upload content that you do not have permission to use even if you provide some form of credit to the artist.

In addition, in the case of Shutterstock which is a image licensing website - I think that fact in itself is a pretty clear sign that they don't want you using their products without the fee being paid. Of course, if you pay the licensing fees you can use your purchased images without any attribution.
Sanne Moderator

Ihsan997 wrote:
A subsequent question I have is that for stock photos. If a person uses an image from Shutterstock, for example, can they just credit Shutterstock? Or should the individual artist/photographer also be mentioned?

Official moderator input: Stock photography is typically distributed under a license. The mods will remove any stock photography image that is watermarked regardless of credit being given, because the watermark implies you don't have permission to use it (those are usually preview images, and not images to be used outside of the stock site). If you obtain the license to use the image, you'll have to follow their license on when and how to give credit.

There are many stock photography sites that are 100% free, such as Unsplash, Pixabay, Pexels and so forth, which I personally recommend as a starting point for reference images to use on RPR. :)

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