Microsoft has closed up shop for the Office.com Clip Art and image library. The announcement came Monday from the Microsoft Office Blog. In its place, Microsoft is providing a Bing Image Search filtered to images licensed with Creative Commons.
Microsoft has often removed popular features for precisely that reason. Certainly web access and bandwidth are at a whole new level than when Office 97 made its debut but Microsoft might also be changing for two reasons: promote Bing images and refresh the over-used clip art. While their software reaches the masses, having PowerPoint presentations be a laughing stock or a sign of a bad presenter, Microsoft has tried to curb some of the annoyances of their products when people overdo it on the features like time-consuming transitions. Microsoft updates its products as it goes but usually it has to wait to release a new version to make those changes.
Alternatively, Microsoft is proposing to use Bing Image Search with a filter for Creative Commons-licensed images. You can also search Flickr and other sources for Creative Commons-licensed images. These photos and images provide many great images as an alternative to paying for stock photos which might still have limitations on them. Unfortunately, images with Creative Commons licenses can create a gray area and a lot of questions. In Microsoft’s announcement of the change, they squarely put respecting copyright back on the end user.
Images can actually have a variety of different licenses under the Creative Commons. Some allow commercial use, some do not. Some require attribution to the source, others require that the work remain unchanged. Images could be any combination of those varieties. One question that often comes up is “If I use a CC-licensed image and they then copyright the image (changing the licensing), could I be sued?”
Look for CC0
The common CC-licensed images require following their restrictions, such as attribution or no derivatives. This can make finding an image to fit a particular scenario rather difficult. How do you tag an image properly for attribution? Can you crop or resize an image so it fits a particular space or is that considered modifying the image?
To avoid all of those related questions, there is a particular Creative Commons license that is gaining popularity called CC0 (Zero). The creator of the work waives their copyright or any related rights and just provides the content for the world to use as they see fit. As a result, we get a lot of quality photos and images for free with no strings attached.
Here is a list of sources to CC0 or public domain images that might help you replace the missing Office clip art:
- Death to Stock Photo
- 1 Million Free Pictures
- Little Visuals
- The British Library on Flickr
- New Old Stock
- Pickup Image
- Public Domain Archive
- PublicDomainPictures.net (watch out for the paid stock photo ads)
Which would you rather have – stale, generic clip art or beautiful, varied stock photos with open licensing?