What is the legality of using such services?
The third question that this discussion brings to my mind is; What is the legality of using such services? The legal issue I am going to be covering is copyright; if you are not sure what copyright is read my article “Copyright and the Alternatives Part One, Copyright”, for now here is a definition from copyright.gov:
“§ 102 . Subject matter of copyright: In general28
(a) Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Works of authorship include the following categories:
(1) literary works;
(2) musical works, including any accompanying words;
(3) dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
(4) pantomimes and choreographic works;
(5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
(6) motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
(7) sound recordings; and
(8) architectural works.”
All the artistic methods I have mentioned in my previous articles are covered in this definition, meaning that any site which uses media without ownership of the copyright would be doing so illegally, plain and simple. On the other hand if the author uses an alternative to copyright such as creative commons, or a free art license you would have to check the specific terms of the license to tell if the media is being used legally. I am not going to go into too much detail, because I have covered them previously in “Copyright and the Alternatives”.
Due to these complications it can be difficult to tell if the site is distributing the media in a legal capacity or not. It would seem the only solution is to do your research about the owners of the individual site(s), and the licenseing method used by the author of said media.