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homer_3

Background Art Q

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I need to get some background art for my game and being that I'm doing this as a hobby, I want to go as cheap as possible, but still legal. There are many websites that offer "free" background images for your desktop. I use quotes, because I don't really know if these images are public domain or not. Do these sites tend to be complying to copyright laws? Anyone have any idea if it'd be safe to use images from these sites in my game? Or know of a background site that only contains public domain stuff?

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Free to download doesn't imply free to redistribute - so yes, you need to check the licence. And yes, you have the risk that you don't know if _they_ are legally hosting (and hence why I'd tend to be suspicious of anything that can't give the licence/author information).

Open Game Art is a site that's worth checking out, if you don't already know about it.

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The images on those free background sites are not public domain. They just put them there to attract web traffic, but they can't generally be used for any other purposes. As others mentioned, as well, they're often stolen themselves. Open game art is one good option.


If you can't find what you need there, are the style of your game is compatible, your best bet for a source of background is very old landscape paintings (or whatever kind you need). Works that were made before copyright law were established are in the public domain, and there are vast quantities of classical paintings you can draw from.

That's my best suggestion for free work (which also, and very importantly, will be in a more consistent style within a period than a hodgepodge of other random works). Research copyright law to see how old a work needs to be from country to country, but in general, anything more than a hundred years old is pretty safe.


Some sites will try to tell you that scans of these public domain works are copyright the museum that owns the original works- this isn't the case (they're blowing hot air). Faithful reproductions of public domain material is also public domain; the effort of scanning does not layer the image with a new copyright. (3d photography, on the other hand, does- because the photographer makes certain choices with regards to angle and lighting that give the photograph an quality of being a creative work in itself).

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