Bringing Copyright Awareness to the Surface

Every once in a while I visit the Microsoft Office Clipart Gallery. I just realized that they have redesigned the page. It is suddenly titled “Find Images Where you Need Them” and is divided into three sections:

  1. Using the Newest Office on Your Desktop
  2. Using Office Web App
  3. Using Bing to get Images.

It is the last section that caught my attention. Bing is a search engine, just like Google . You can read the following step-by-step directions to find images with Bing Search



  1. Open in your browser, type a word or phrase describing the art you want, and start the search
  2. Hover over your selected item in the result set and right click you mouse to bring up an Options menu
  3. Click Save picture as… in the menu. Save image

What is WRONG with these instructions?  From my perspective Microsoft, so keen in protecting their own copyright on their products, feels that it is irrelevant to even bring it to the attention of their users that the images showing up in their Bing search results might be copyright protected and it is not as as simple as right clicking and saving them. From my perspective, these kind of instructions even ENDORSE copyright infringement!

For the fun of it, I typed in “langwitches” on Bing and saw the following results. According to Microsoft, just right click away and save this images to your computer!



Oddly enough, Microsoft explains copyright on another page by stating explicitly:

If you use someone else’s copyrighted materials without permission, that use generally violates the copyright owner’s exclusive rights, and is copyright infringement. So if you create a new work and include parts of other people’s works in it (such as an existing photo, lengthy quotes from a book or a loop from a song), you must own or have permission to use the elements you borrow.

There are other companies, like Soundcloud, a community of music and audio creators, on the other hand seems to be much more proactive in helping raise awareness and educate their users about copyright. They even have prepared and included a very useful Copyright Checklist.

SoundCloud is a platform for creators and we expect all SoundCloud users to respect other people’s copyright.
What is copyright?
What is copyright infringement and how can I avoid it?
Copyright Checklist
Further resources

Copyright is complicated. If you have any doubt regarding the extent of your rights in any sounds, you should consult with a suitably qualified lawyer before uploading anything to SoundCloud or making any claims or counter-claims regarding your rights. However, as a general guide, here are some of the issues you might want to consider before uploading anything to SoundCloud.

I applaud companies, like Soundcloud in their effort to bring copyright awareness to the surface and am very disappointing in companies like Microsoft who even seem to encourage copyright infringement!