Customizing your website
There are a number of ways to differentiate the look and feel of your website from your competition. It is important to make sure your site speaks to who you are and tells your story. When customizing your site it is highly important not to infringe on trademarks, copyrighted materials like photos, videos, or writing.
Posting and Blogging the LEGAL way
We have worked with many different clients over the years. Some clients are familiar with copyright laws and some are not. Your website or "blog" is no different than a newspaper, billboard, or magazine. Your website is held to all the same rules and regulations just the same. We have had clients in the past run into plagiarism and copyright legal disputes over the seemingly simple act of posting/blogging on their site.
Some examples of plagiarism and copyright can be attributed to simply placing a picture in your blog that you did not receive permission to use. Just because the picture, graphic, or image is on the internet or found using a Google Image Search doesn't mean you get to use it. This also goes for articles written by other authors on other websites or news outlets. Copying and pasting a news article from one website to your website is called plagiarism. Unless you specifically have written authorization or have a syndication agreement with the person or entity you are copying content from, it is otherwise illegal.
There are ways to get the message out about an article someone has written without copying and pasting it to your site. You are allowed to write a brief description about the article using your own words and then sending your readers to the original article using a hyperlink within your article. This is one way to legally get your point across.
FREE and LICENSED Content For Your Site
We have gathered a few sites that you can find free-to-use images or graphics on your website to use when posting or blogging articles. Some are free and Royalty Free. Others are paid and Royalty Free.
Royalty Free does not mean it's free for you to download and use as you like. It just means it's free of any royalty fees. In other words, once you buy the content (photo, graphic, video), you can use it in a project or post, usually once, and might not have to pay anything else regardless if the video or page is seen 10 times or 1,000,000 times. You pay one flat fee and you are covered.
Another thing to remember is that just because you find photos, graphics or videos online that are royalty free, it doesn't necessarily mean that you are free to use it for commercial purposes. For Example. If you are going to monetize your videos on YouTube by running ads against them then you need to license any content you use in your own videos or you will be making money off other people's work. This can become an issue somewhere along the line, either from the ContentID system or a claim by the original artist or their publisher.
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Incompetech is the grandfather of free royalty free music and tracks heard on many YouTube videos. It's probably one of the most easily searchable sites available and allows you to select music based on genre, mood, or by instrument. It has a decent sized library and allows you to listen to a preview before you download.
The trick to using CCMixter is to select the 'Free for Commercial Use' licensing option, from the drop down menu in the top right hand corner. The search feature isn't the best, but if you take your time you can find some quality tracks here.
Josh Woodward is a musician who records a variety of music, mostly with vocals. All music is written, recorded and produced by him personally. He has over 10 albums worth of music, and over 180 songs, all free in exchange fore crediting him and sharing his site where you can, particularly via social media. Ideal for background music if you are looking for something with or without vocals.
Not all creators are aware of a FREE music resource over at Youtube.com. It has a lot of music content that's completely free and search friendly. You can search by genre, instrument, mood, or duration, and you can bookmark pieces as favorites for later use. You can even use the tracks without any kind of attribution needed! However, despite coming from YouTube, we know many creators who have still had issues with these tracks being flagged by Content ID. If you appeal the claim, your videos should be released, but it's still an annoying risk to take.
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- https://www.stockphotosforfree.com This seems to be a new service that has over 100,000 photos in many categories. After you register then you are able to download the images without a logo on them.
- https://pixabay.com Pixaby provides thousands of public domain images. This means that you can freely use any image from this website in digital and printed format, for personal and commercial use, without attribution requirement to the original author.
- https://unrestrictedstock.com Unrestricted Stock provides many vector graphic images as well as icons and hand drawn images that you can use for just about anything free of charge. They also have a few photographs that you can use.