Microsoft clip art on your blog?

The answer may surprise you

It takes an awful lot to get The Legal Genealogist to like Microsoft but one of today’s questions from reader Lynda Peach, who’s launched a blog at idogenealogy.net, is going to come very close…

Here’s what she asks:

I’ve just gone live with my new blog(site), http://idogenealogy.net, and have a question about images. I’m very aware of copyright on images BUT given that I have affiliates listed on the site — is my site now COMMERCIAL? And second question, I own a legal copy of Office 2010. If I create an image from clipart that is part of the offerings from Microsoft to Word 2010, can I use my modified image on idogenealogy.net legally?

Microsoft clip art

These are both great questions.

Let’s take the easy question — the Microsoft question — first, today. We’ll tackle the harder question — commercial vs. non-commercial — next week.

Whenever you buy a software package like Microsoft Office, or a single program like Word, you’re bound by the license that comes with the software. Microsoft says so specifically on its website:

“You may only copy, modify, distribute, display, license, or sell the content if you are granted explicit permission within the End-User License Agreement (EULA) or License Terms that accompany the content or are provided in the following guidelines.”1

And, frankly, I was surprised to see that the license that comes with Microsoft Office 2010 and Word 2010 (it’s the same for both) is quite liberal in allowing most uses of the clip art and other goodies that come with the software:

Media Elements and Templates. You may have access to media images, clip art, animations, sounds, music, video clips, templates and other forms of content (“media elements”) provided with the software or as part of a service associated with the software. You may copy and use the media elements in projects and documents. You may not (i) sell, license or distribute copies of the media elements by themselves or as a product if the primary value of the product is the media elements; (ii) grant your customers rights to further license or distribute the media elements; (iii) license or distribute for commercial purposes media elements that include the representation of identifiable individuals, governments, logos, trademarks, or emblems or use these types of images in ways that could imply an endorsement or association with your product, entity or activity; or (iv) create obscene or scandalous works using the media elements.2

Under these terms, everybody who owns the software is allowed to “copy and use the media elements in projects and documents.” And those media elements include “images, clip art, animations, sounds, music, video clips, templates and other forms of content.” You can’t get much broader than that, and with no online-vs.-offline limits, a blog sure ought to be a project and a blog post a document.

And under these terms, there are only four things you can’t do:

• (1) You can’t resell an image or clip art or other media content itself. And that means you can’t create a product from that media content where the only real value of the product is from the media content. (A dish towel with photo, for example.)

• (2) You can’t give anybody else permission to use the content by itself. You can certainly give someone permission to reprint your blog post. You just can’t tell someone else it’s okay to use the clip art for their own purposes, by itself.

• (3) You can’t use anything that shows “identifiable individuals, governments, logos, trademarks, or emblems” in any way that might make it seem that they’re associated with you or endorsing you or what you’re doing or saying.

• (4) You can’t “create obscene or scandalous works using the media elements.” ‘Nuff said there.

Wow.

Those are about the broadest terms I’ve ever seen for this sort of content from a commercial source.

And it gets better. Because Microsoft has a lot of content online on its Office.com website with equally liberal terms of use3 — even if you don’t own the Microsoft Office software:

8.1. Office.com and Office Web App media elements and templates. If you use Microsoft Office.com or the Microsoft Office Web Apps, you may have access to media images, clip art, animations, sounds, music, video clips, templates, and other forms of content (“media elements”) provided with the software available on Office.com or as part of services associated with the software. You may copy and use the media elements in projects and documents. You may not (i) sell, license, or distribute copies of the media elements by themselves or as a product if the primary value of the product is the media elements; (ii) grant your customers rights to further license or distribute the media elements; (iii) license or distribute for commercial purposes media elements that include the representation of identifiable individuals, governments, logos, trademarks, or emblems or use these types of images in ways that could imply an endorsement or association with your product, entity or activity; or (iv) create obscene works using the media elements.4

Wow again.

There are all kinds of images, clip art, templates and more at Office.com and they’re all up for grabs as long as you don’t do one of those four things Microsoft says you can’t do.

Lynda, I may never like Internet Explorer. I may growl at Windows 8. But your question comes awfully close to making me smile at Microsoft. So yes, indeed, you can create an image from clip art in Word 2010 and use your modified image on idogenealogy.net.

Looking forward to seeing what you do with it! (And look for that commercial vs. non-commercial question next week.)


SOURCES

  1. Use of Microsoft Copyrighted Content,” Microsoft (http://www.microsoft.com/ : accessed 24 Jan 2013).
  2. The End User License Terms for all Microsoft products are available through its drop-down system, “Find End User License Terms for Microsoft Software Licensed by Microsoft or the Computer Manufacturer.”
  3. Terms of use, remember, are “the limits somebody who owns something you want to see or copy or use puts on whether or not he’ll let you see or copy or use it.” Judy G. Russell, “A terms of use intro,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 27 Apr 2012 (http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : accessed 24 Jan 2013).
  4. Microsoft Services Agreement,” Microsoft (http://www.microsoft.com/ : accessed 24 Jan 2013).
Print Friendly
This entry was posted in Copyright, Terms of use. Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Microsoft clip art on your blog?

  1. Ginger Smith says:

    Thanks for the question and the answers Judy. I got turned on to Microsoft Images while doing my internship at the Library last fall. We use them for our book displays. There are some great images up for grabs like you said, and many of them are photographs which are even nicer. Let’s just hope they weren’t harvested from someone’s facebook page ;-)

  2. Kate Eakman says:

    Thank you for clarifying this question…I am in the process of revamping my website and found some perfect Office images that I wanted to use and was wondering if I could. One last question…. do these images need to be (or should I) attribute them in some form or fashion?

  3. Pat Richley-Erickson says:

    I would argue that using Blogger.com or WordPress does not constitute “as part of the service associated with the [Microsoft] software” since Microsoft doesn’t own Blogger or WordPress.

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Pat, the language in the terms of use and user license about “as part of services associated with the software” applies only to where and how you gain access to the media contents (images, clip art and the like). So you’re allowed to use the materials only if you access them through the software itself (user license), or on Office.com (user license and Microsoft terms of use), or through the Office Web Apps (Microsoft terms of user).

      If you encounter these materials anywhere else (for example in someone’s blog on Blogger or WordPress or anywhere else online), in any other way, you can’t grab ‘em and use ‘em.

      • Pat Richley-Erickson says:

        Thanks for the clarification, Judy. This is why the regular person should never act as their own attorney. Deciphering these terms is not for the faint of heart.

  4. That is good to know. As usual, reading your blog has made me smarter! :-)

  5. Celia Lewis says:

    Every day in every way, I’m getting smarter and smarter (like Anne above)… maybe even wiser (maybe). Thanks once more for a practical learning experience!

  6. Polly Kimmitt says:

    Judy, what if you publish a book? Can you use the images then?

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Polly, I don’t see how a book differs from a “project” and you’re expressly allowed to use them in “projects.”

  7. Wendy says:

    Thanks, Judy. I had no idea that the terms were that liberal. I guess I hadn’t gotten that far with my blog, but it’s a great resource pool! I’ve been using various clip art images in flyers and other documents, but not yet a post. It has opened up an entirely new world!

  8. I can’t wait to see what your answer is about commercial blogs next week. I don’t advertise now, and I was given permission to use several images because it was not a commercial blog. Now I have written a few things I’d like to advertise for sale along the side of my blog posts, and I wondered if I would have to remove the images now?

  9. Love it. Now I need to take a serious look through the images. You have been added to my short list of required readings during my morning coffee. Thank you for such an informative blog.

    Laurie

  10. Pingback: Warriors, elopements, and pranks! It’s Follow Friday! | finding forgotten stories

  11. Pauleen says:

    Not only Wow! but Whew!! I had optimistically reached that conclusion but your expert knowledge is reassuring.Thank you!

  12. Micah Peterson says:

    This is a fantastic article! Thank you so much for putting it together. I was just wondering if you ever did create the follow up article on commercial vs non-commercial?

    Thanks! Micah

  13. Thank you so much! This was very helpful. I just started an educational blog and all of this is very new to me. I appreciate the help!

  14. This is a long shot, and not entirely related to this post- but in case you have some insight…Do you have any idea who creates the images that are included in Microsoft Word Clipart- working in the arts I always have a curiosity to know where the images I see come from. From my brief research I can’t find any contributor or artist information from Microsoft. Any thoughts?

  15. tina says:

    Thanks for this, so if i am reading this right, i can use the clipart images on some training materials i produce such as handouts and flash cards? i dont sell the resources (handouts etc), i give them free after a course is attended.

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      I can’t give you specific advice on this. You have to read the limits and see if you think you do or don’t fall within them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>