Back in the ‘90s, Clip Art took over Word and PowerPoint files thanks to the thousands of office workers and students who used the images as a way to “improve” their documents. These days there are a large number of free images available on the web, and Microsoft is recognizing this by killing off its Clip Art portal in recent versions Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook. “The Office.com Clip Art and image library has closed shop,” explains Microsoft’s Doug Thomas. “Usage of Office’s image library has been declining year-to-year as customers rely more on search engines.”
Be careful: most Creative Commons images require attribution, meaning you need to give credit to the artist in order to use the image. Make sure you understand Creative Commons and other licenses 3 Popular Image Licenses You Need To Be Familiar With Before Using Someone's Photos 3 Popular Image Licenses You Need To Be Familiar With Before Using Someone's Photos Read More before using such images.
Is there a potential downside? Yes. Just because a search engine sees something as Creative Commons doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. Here at MakeUseOf, for example, we’ve had at least one photographer threaten to sue us over an image he didn’t realize he himself licensed as Creative Content. He backed down when we pointed this out, and it’s one example resulting from thousands of blog posts spread over a decade, but know that this isn’t without risk.
My colleague Chris compared Google Image search to Bing Bing Images vs. Google Images - Which Has Better Results? Bing Images vs. Google Images - Which Has Better Results? Bing’s image search once challenged Google, offering more features and a better design. With infinite scrolling and the ability to search for similar images, Bing was legitimately better than Google at image search just a... Read More , and found Google’s results to be better. If you feel the same way, don’t worry: you can use it to find rights-cleared images. While searching for an image, click Search Tools then Usage Rights.
I used clipart a LOT for newsetters and other documents. I don't always want a photo - clipart is often better at getting an idea across quickly, and I didn't need to worry about copyright because I assumed it was OK to use without permission as it was a part of the MS package. The BING option is terrible - very juvenile and hardly extensive with fewer than 50 options. And by-the-way, most of the online sites for "accessing clipart in MS Word 2010" still say to go to insert then click on clipart. Really - we hardly need such basic instructions when they aren't even correct anymore!
As an artist I resent some people's assumption that original art from my abilities and imagination, which I have sacrificed a lot to develop, should somehow default to public property. If we require artists to participate in a money economy their art belongs to them. Copying images and not following the copyright owners permissions to the letter is stealing, outright. And deep pockets like Disney has taught individuals that the hard way.
Which brings us to Creative Commons, the license Office’s new Bing-powered search filters for. My colleague Danny explained what Creative Commons is, and why you should use it What Is Creative Commons, And Should You Use It? What Is Creative Commons, And Should You Use It? Creative Commons is a set of licenses which automatically give you permission to do various things, such as reuse and distribute the content. Let's find out more about it and how to use it. Read More , but the quick version is that it’s a way for artists to tell the web their images are free to use.