There’s loads of stuff online that you can use for free. Images, music, software, apps, plug-ins, games, it goes on and on. There are reasons people give stuff away for free and these reasons vary from person to person, organisation to organisation. If you want to use anything this isn’t your own copyright on your blog or share it elsewhere, it is your duty and responsibility to be aware of copyright and if it is OK to use.
I thought I would do a quick checklist to remember when using free stuff from the web.
Make sure that what you want to use really is available for free. Look for the license and make sure you understand what it actually means. If you see something that has no credits to it and you can’t trace back where it has come from, chances are the person has not shared it correctly and is breaking someone’s copyright – so find something else.
Acknowledge whose work it is. They are giving it you for free to build their reputation, that is the expected fee. For best practice on how to credit work that is licensed by Creative Commons, see https://wiki.creativecommons.org/Best_practices_for_attribution, which in summary says, “A good rule of thumb is to use the acronym TASL, which stands for Title, Author, Source, License.”
Include a link back to the original source of the item either in a caption or credits somewhere on the post.
Most places that people share stuff have some way for you to comment. Thank them for sharing it. Tell them where and how you have used it. It’s good manners and it may also get you a new subscriber or friend.
If there is the option to review (as is often the case with apps, plugins and software), do! Be honest, but also acknowledge that you have had this for free and reviewing is part of the pay back. There is no need to troll even if it wasn’t great. If something wasn’t good, suggest how it could be better constructively. Also give stars, hearts, likes as it all helps with that person’s online ranking.
If you like stuff, recommend it to your friends, your readers, your public. Share it on your social media.
If you use something all the time that you have had for free (eg a piece of software or an app), or you consistently get things from one source, check if they have a way to donate to them and consider doing so. People need to make a living and if your source of free stuff can’t make a living, then the stuff will dry up. You may be able to support by subscribing to their service, upgrading to the premium version or buying another of their products. If you don’t have the means to support financially, subscribing (eg YouTube channel), following (eg Twitter, wordpress), liking (eg Facebook page) are all ways of supporting the person to build their reputation online and get more business.
8 Give back
It’s an online community. If you take stuff out, then you should put stuff back too, that’s how a community works, how it thrives. So if you use other people’s stuff for free, put some of yours out there for others to use for free too. It’s paying it forward.
All of the above applies to free advice, eg if you learn how to do something from a YouTube video or from an answered question in a forum.