We just had a "managing your personal photos" drop-in session here at the Libraries, and I was tasked to help people think about legal issues. Thought I'd turn my handout into a blog post!
If you're in it, you might not own it. (Except for selfies.)
Copyright ownership -usually- belongs to the photographer. So pictures -of- you often legally belong to someone else. Of course, when you take selfie, you -are- the photographer, so the ownership is actually easier.
As a colleague asked at the workshop, can you download and save all the pictures -other people- post of you on Facebook? You certainly don't own all of them, but most of your friends probably won't care. The big problems come when, unexpectedly, someone -does- care.
I wrote a little more about this "ownership" conundrum with pictures of yourself & family members a while back.
Even if you don't own it, you might still be able to use it.
You can use other people's stuff without permission -sometimes-. It's more likely to be okay to do that if you are building on their stuff to make new things, or to educate other people - and always better if not for profit. You'll want to Learn more about fair use to make educated and responsible decisions about this.
Not giving credit: sometimes a legal or academic integrity issue. ALWAYS DOUCHETASTIC
Providing credit or attribution is often not a legal requirement. But not providing credit, especially when it is -easy to find the original- is just a nasty move. If you like it enough to copy it, doesn't the person who created it deserve a little nod? Also, for school assignments and scholarship, not providing credit can result in disciplinary proceedings that are separate from legal courts - passing off someone else's stuff as your own is a serious academic offense.
There's tons of stuff you can 100% legally use for free
If you -need- to use a particular work to make a point, or to communicate an important concept, it may be legal under fair use. But if you want to remove uncertainty, look for stuff you are already actively allowed to use! The public domain includes works that we all own, and Creative Commons works are already approved for certain types of re-use.Here's a whole lot of ways to find Free and Legal Stuff You Can USE.