Before you begin using the wonderful free design resources, media and material  listed here in the Design Vault, it's important that you understand licences to ensure that you use free material appropriately and lawfully. 

What is a Licence?

A licence is where the licensor (owner) gives permission to the licensee (a third party) to use the licensed material*.

*Material in our case refers to photos, fonts, illustrations, icons, patterns and any other design related files. 

Why is it Important?

Each licence has certain conditions on the use of the licensed material and any breach of these conditions could have serious legal implications.

The majority of free design materials are licenced and therefore have certain conditions on the use of that material. It is your responsibility to check if there is a licence attached to the free design material you source from websites listed in The Design Vault or elsewhere on the internet, and ensure you abide by the conditions of the licence. 

Licences For Free Material

There are many different types of licences for free material all of which will have different conditions. The most common type of licences are the Creative Commons Licenses.

As defined by Wikipedia:

'A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work. A CC license is used when an author wants to give people the right to share, use, and build upon a work that they have created.'

There are several different types of CC licences which have different combinations of conditions upon the uses and distribution allowed under the license. There are four main conditions which the CC licences may include:

ATTRIBUTION: Licensees must give credit to the original author of the material in the manner specified by the licence

SHARE-ALIKE: Any adaptations or derivative works by the licensee must be distributed under the same or similar licence as the original.

NON-COMMERCIAL: Licensee may use, copy, remix, adapt or distribute the material for non-commercial purposes only.

NO DERIVATIVE WORKS: Licensee is not permitted to adapt, remix or make any derivative works. Material may only be used in it's original form.

There are seven regularly used CC licenses which are comprised of different combinations of the above four conditions and are summarised below.

As you can see from the diagram above the most open and therefore most ideal for our purposes is the CC0 licence which has no restrictions, meaning you can modify and distribute for any purpose without having to give attributions.

However it is not always possible to find exactly what you want under the CC0 licence. A lot of quality design materials require attribution. This is because the original designer/artist has put a lot of time and effort into creating free materials and often they are sharing free content to help build up their name. Giving attribution is a great way to help support these talented designers and artists.

Regardless of the exact licence conditions, all of the resources included in The Design Vault include design related material that falls somewhere on the spectrum above, whether it is licenced under the Creative Commons licensing system or another similar licensing system. Remember it is your responsibility to check the licence of each item you use and ensure your compliance.