First of all, let's talk copyright and fair use.

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"Following fair use principles protects against copyright infringement."--MIT Libraries Website, Why Copyright and Citation Matter (http://libguides.mit.edu/usingimages)

Basically, you can get in a lot of trouble for using copyrighted material in the wrong way. This becomes an important issue to discuss when considering images and art you might use in creating a book cover, as many of images you run across online fall under some kind of copyright. Unless you're specifically searching for the right kind of material for your cover--for example, Creative Commons images, more on that later--or creating your own cover image yourself, you could potentially run into some kind of copyright issue, and nobody wants that!

The best way to avoid the problem? Avoid using copyright images! It's as simple as that; granted, your cover might fall under fair use, and if that's the case you shouldn't have an issue. But in my book--hehe, author pun--it's better safe than sorry.

Look at it this way, if you wrote a killer story here on Wattpad, or anywhere else for that matter, and someone took your story, copy and pasted it to their own page, or book, or blog, etc., changed a few minor things and called it their own, you'd be pretty upset, right? It's the same with images. The artists, photographers, and/or models involved in the creation of an original image usually doesn't want his or her art used without his or her knowledge, especially not for someone else's benefit and without permission or, in some cases, compensation.

When it comes to Creative Commons images, the author of the image has listed the image under a kind of copyright that allows specific types of use, sometimes commercial, sometimes personal and sometimes specific attribution is required, while other times it's not. You still have to be responsible when using Creative Commons images. They don't release you from responsibility. But these images do make it much, much easier in a lot of ways!

In a later chapter I'll have several resources for websites where Creative Commons--limited/no copyright depending on the type of Creative Commons license--images can be found. There are really quite a few resources for this, and you can find a variety of images that can even be manipulated to suit the purposes of your cover if you've got killer photoshop skills or something! That's not my area of expertise. But hey, there's always YouTube.

You can find out more about fair use here: http://copyright.gov/fair-use/

And, of course, here: http://libguides.mit.edu/usingimages

Check out this link if you want to delve deeper into copyright law: http://www.copyright.gov/title17/

You can find out more about Creative Commons here: https://creativecommons.org

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