Personal use versus commercial use: when you can use what

Did you know there is a lot of legal ramifications for misuse of any content on the Internet that is not your own?  Of course, you probably know that.  It's basically middle school 101 on how to not plagiarize.  But a lot of people are unaware they are doing it with Intellectual Property like basically anything from Pinterest, images, audio, video, icons, fonts, etc.

Here's kind of your Internet 101 guide to quickly understanding the basic who owns what of Internet stuff:

The author, creator, or owner of an original work (e.g., a picture, a graphic, an audio file, a font, etc) is automatically given copyright protections of that work.  The author then needs to specify to the world (e.g., "public domain") how their work may be used and this is determined by licensing the work.

Personal Use versus Commercial Use

Personal Use

Free for you to use for anything for you and you only.  Personal use still limits that you cannot use images, clip art, or other content for distribution even in a private/internal company presentation.  The definition includes the use of images or content in a manner that is not for personal gain.  

Even though a download is for personal use, there is still a dedicated license associated with personal use downloads that you need to get as well (don't worry, it's usually with the download or readily available on the website).

Example: a wedding announcement.

Commercial Use

Use of images or content in a manner "that is intended for commercial, promotional, endorsement, advertising or merchandising purposes."(1) 

For using a download (image, font, etc), you will need to make sure you have the commercial use license as well and go ahead and read the license because there are further restrictions that might be defined in the license in how the author of the work allows you to use the download.

Examples: website, brochure, advertisement, presentation, or product.

(1) Definition attained from