public domain illustration permissible?

I want to use paw prints in my ebook and print copy version. In both versions I will be documenting the internet source of the paw print images. Does this present a publishing delimma or is it permissible, since i am documenting the source of the image. My other option is to capture the cat and have the cat create the pawprints, which is too labor intensive for this project.


  • oncewasoncewas Librarian

    There is a difference between things which are in the public domain and things which are on the internet. Just because something is on the internet does not mean that it is in the public domain. Items which are in the public domain have been specifically licensed as such or the copyright has lapsed due to a certain numbers of years having elapsed since the copyright came into being.


    Say I had a website displaying pictures which I have taken and to which I own the copyright. Using one of these pictures, without my permission, would be breaching my copyright, even if you provide a link to my website.


    Your best bet would be to purchase a royalty free picture from a stock photography company. They only cost a few dollars. Alternatively if you have a collection of royalty free clip art you could check to see if there are any paw prints. Failing that you will have to get a friendly cat to walk over a sheet of paper!

  • I have to add my second to what danielblue said. Don't confuse finding something on the internet with it being public domain. Unless you are working with a legitimate clip art or stock image supplier, there is no guarantee that the image is on the site legally. I constantly find my own artwork appearing on websites without permission or credit. If you had found one of those, you would be very much in the wrong assuming it was public domain.


    Here is a site that might help you:

    Black Cat Studios
  • There is a site called All of the photos are public domain by the owners of them. Most have email links where you can write and ask for permission as a courteosy. I've never been turned down. They have thousands of pictures and every book I sell has a picture from that site. But you have to be careful if there are people or brand name objects etc in the photo. The way they make money is through paypal donations or if someone buys a hd version of their pictures. So if you find something you like write and ask them , maybe mention them in your book and maybe donate a couple of dollars. Check it out though thousands of photos there.

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