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Forums > Legal > How to.. Cover Art

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Like many here, I make music. Art and photography, nah, not so much. Now some may argue that I make music 'not so much' as well, but on the otherhand, at least its my own. While cover art.. nah, not so much. I tend to use other peoples work for my cover art, which is generally sourced randomly from the intraweb and then cropped into a perfect square and uploaded to my project. Job done.

So in this post I wanted to share some thoughts on the best way to add someone else's work as cover art on your project. 

Firstly, make sure you have permission of the copyright owner. Ideally in writing or in the form of a license. Of course, what's more likely is that we just sign-up and accept the terms and conditions posted on a website offering free images posted under a Creative Commons license. All well and good.. but make sure to read and understand the licensing terms carefully, and obey. Also consider - if that image was one day deleted from that site by its rightful owner, what evidence remains that you ever had permission to use it in the first place? 

Remember, Creative Commons is just a simplified means of licensing copyrighted stuff for others to use.. it's copyright is still owned by the original author. And the idea of putting something into the public domain is not as easy as it may sound. So just be wary that a once young and free-spirited artist who wants to share their work freely with the world may suddenly about-turn and become very possesive of the work they have put so much of blood, sweat and tears into creating. Artists, eh!

One thing you may want to do as a matter of habit would be to take a screenshot at the time that you download your royalty free image. Include both the art, url, and the license in the screen capture. The date and time would also be important information too. Now, spoiler alert, I am no lawyer, so this advice is likely to be legally useless if it came to battling it out in a court of law. And to be frank, a screen capture like this is likely only going to be able to convince your own grandparents that you did not steal someone else's work (not the facebook savvy types who know digital images can be edited - the other ones that still don't know how to use the tv remote control). 

The best solution? Create your own cover art! [Bet you didn't see that one coming.. just like a copyright infringement lawsuite] money-mouth  

For the rest of us, at least we need to make sure we credit the author properly (and then keep our fingers crossed). Here's how:

On your project, you'll need to go to 'Project  Settings' from the main project page. Then to the 'Derivative Works' tab - not the 'Copyright' tab, which is more appropriate for original contributions in the project.

On the 'Derivative Works' tab, you can add the following:

Title of Work - should be the original title of the artwork;

Permission - Select the appropriate license that matches the original licencing requirements (e.g. Creative Commons or Public Domain, etc);

Presumably you are referencing the work of a non-member, so select that option;

Attribute work to - Ideally the copyright owner / authors name;

Website - ideally include a URL to the owner/author so that they can be contacted directly;

Source work URL -  important! Include a direct link that takes you straight to where you originally sourced the 'free' image from.

By filling this information fully and correctly, the licence reference will be automatically added to your project page when you finish and publish your project into the Music Store. 

If so inclined, you may also want to add reference to your cover artist in the project credits (in the 'Credit' tab).

Hope you've found this at least a little bit helpful. Feel free to comment or share your own experiences with dealing with cover art.. and artists (no, musicians are not that much different when it comes to sharing)!

#4164 Posted Tue 12 May, 2020 3:34 am

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