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Using clip art from the internet

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markmist
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OK, so I am going to debut my game in the BGDW this monday, and I had a question considering card art.

My game has ALOT of different cards in it and I used clip art from google images to design them. (I did make alterations to several of them if that makes a difference.) Up to this point I have only made 1 prototype and have playtested it with only a few friends.

My question is this... at what point does using these images become an issue? Am I allowed to submit them to the forum? Would I be allowed to play the game in public? Is there a way to get the creator's permission to use the images?

Any insight into this issue would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Mark

Shrike
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Using clip art from the internet

OK, before I say anything else I'll say that I'm not a lawyer. But this is how I see it. Until you try to make money from the game, you can do whatever you want with it. I use clip art and images in the same way, on multiple prototypes for a couple different games (5 I think right now) I use it to generate interest from playtesters and to help me keep in the theme of the game as I get into it. Now, I could be way off on this, but until I try to make money from the game, I don;t see the reason to not use hwatever is available as artistry is not one of my strongpoints.... your mileage may vary though. Any other thoughts on this?

jwarrend
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Re: Using clip art from the internet

markmist wrote:
OK, so I am going to debut my game in the BGDW this monday, and I had a question considering card art.

It's just "GDW". Card games are also welcome!

Quote:

My game has ALOT of different cards in it and I used clip art from google images to design them.

Just one suggestion/request. Unless it's absolutely crucial to being able to understand the game that we see every card, I strongly suggest you pick a few representative cards to show us, rather than the entire set. Keep in mind that the GDW is really a rulebook critique first and foremost, so just show us as many cards as we'll need to see to understand how to play the game.

Quote:

My question is this... at what point does using these images become an issue? Am I allowed to submit them to the forum? Would I be allowed to play the game in public? Is there a way to get the creator's permission to use the images?

For the GDW, it's fine. For playtesting, I think it's fine. For selling the game, it's not fine without permission.

Note that these aren't legally rigorous, just common sense. My sense is that copyright is meant to protect one from someone else making money off of one's idea/creation. If you weren't allowed to use other's work in non-money-making contexts, then you also couldn't, for example, quote song lyrics in a speech, etc.; the restrictions would get insane in a hurry.

If you're really worried, you could probably contact the site owners, but chances are they didn't create the clip art either. The safest bet is probably to buy a package of royalty free clip art.

But for the GDW, really, don't worry about it. We want to talk about the game itself; we won't even ask where the clip art came from, unless it's quite unique!

-Jeff

sedjtroll
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Re: Using clip art from the internet

jwarrend wrote:
Just one suggestion/request. Unless it's absolutely crucial to being able to understand the game that we see every card, I strongly suggest you pick a few representative cards to show us, rather than the entire set.

If linking to the cards, there's no reason not to include them all (if for example, you already have it set up that way). It's not a requirement, and like Jeff says, a few representative cards will give us the idea, but if you HAVE all the cards in a file, there's no good reason not to link to it.

Regarding clip art, you can use it however you want, you just can't try and sell it to people. So on this forum and in playtesting you will not have any trouble with clip art.

- Seth

VeritasGames
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Using clip art from the internet

Are the images you have downloaded actually clip art? If so, they have a license. Read it. If you just went into Google Images and downloaded images, then those images are copyrighted. If they are on the net, it is probably fair use for you to download them and print them out. It is NOT fair use for you to distribute those as part of a new derivative work, even if you aren't making a profit on the game.

Spend $15.00 and go to ClipArt.com and get yourself some licensed clipart.

markmist
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Re: Using clip art from the internet

jwarrend wrote:
Just one suggestion/request. Unless it's absolutely crucial to being able to understand the game that we see every card, I strongly suggest you pick a few representative cards to show us, rather than the entire set.

sedjtroll wrote:
If linking to the cards, there's no reason not to include them all (if for example, you already have it set up that way). It's not a requirement, and like Jeff says, a few representative cards will give us the idea, but if you HAVE all the cards in a file, there's no good reason not to link to it.
- Seth

Well, I was going to start of with just posting the rules which include a few sample cards in the game. At a later point, I could provide a link to all of the cards if someone wants to see them all.

markmist
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Using clip art from the internet

VeritasGames wrote:
Are the images you have downloaded actually clip art? If so, they have a license. Read it. If you just went into Google Images and downloaded images, then those images are copyrighted. If they are on the net, it is probably fair use for you to download them and print them out. It is NOT fair use for you to distribute those as part of a new derivative work, even if you aren't making a profit on the game.

Spend $15.00 and go to ClipArt.com and get yourself some licensed clipart.

The majority of replies has been that is ok to use for prototyping and playtesting. Your opinion was the lone dissenting one. The only thing I can find on google images is a disclaimer that the image MAY be subject to a copyright, the keyword being MAY. I don't have a problem with spending $ on licensed clip art, but I doubt that clipart.com would have what I was looking for anyways.

You say that it is NOT fair use to "distribute" as part of a new deriviate network. Does distribute just mean give away or does it also include playtesting? It was not my intention to make additional copies and distribute them, however I was planning on bringing this game to Protospeil in its current form.

Any other comments or suggestions?

VeritasGames
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Using clip art from the internet

Quote:
The only thing I can find on google images is a disclaimer that the image MAY be subject to a copyright, the keyword being MAY.

The key words are you MAY be sued for up to $250,000 and serve jail time for creating derivative works of other people's copyrighted materials if you distribute them on the internet or by hand.

Now, you probably will never be sued, probably will never go to jail, and will probably never even receive a cease and desist notice. But you asked whether it was OK. So I offered up my perspective.

However, Google says "May be copyrighted" about TONS of their images. That's a generic warning.

As a general note, unless it was generated by the federal government without the use of subcontractors, or unless it is an image from the early part of the 20th century or before, or unless people have specifically placed the image in the public domain, then under U.S. law an image is copyrighted the second it is put into fixed form.

So, likely if it is an image developed in the last 70+ years then there's about a 99% chance that it is copyrighted by someone.

Quote:
You say that it is NOT fair use to "distribute" as part of a new deriviate network. Does distribute just mean give away or does it also include playtesting?

Distribute has the plain English meaning. To transfer copies of the work to other people. If you found it on the internet it's just about 100% likely to be fair use for you to print it out and use it in your house, for no profit, for your own purposes. I haven't heard of a court case yet where printing out stuff for your own personal use that you found on the internet was not considered to be fair use.

Arguably you are creating a derivative work by including images in a board game of your own creation instead of just printing out the stuff, but if you are making no profit off the venture then you are probably engaged in fair use. That's a bit of a gray area.

Start spreading copies around and you are engaging in distribution activities that only the owner of the copyright is entitled to do under Title 17 of the U.S. Code.

Quote:
It was not my intention to make additional copies and distribute them, however I was planning on bringing this game to Protospeil in its current form.

You are in a gray area, but you are likely OK if you make no other copies of the materials to distribute to others. If you are showing it off to try to get others to buy your design then you have probably stepped outside of the "fair use" area for using the graphics you found on the internet. If you have one copy of the art for personal use and you are not trying to market your game then even if you are outside of fair use, you probably won't be bothered by anyone.

If you engaged in a full fledged playtest involving lots of other people with copies of your game then you are in violation of copyright law.

If you do that and have no intention of making profit then you may go unnnoticed or you may get tagged with a "cease and desist" letter.

If you do that and are intending to make profit and you get noticed you could be tagged with a very unfortunate lawsuit.

I may have misunderstood what you meant by "playtest". I playtest games sometimes with just a few of my friends, but often I find people outside of my own state or country to help playtest, and then you have to distribute copies of your game and its graphics.

It seems like others were suggesting that you put the game on the net and link to the images. Don't do that if you want to strictly abide by Title 17 unless you are licensed to distribute the images. If, however, you are only worried about conduct that is substantially likely to get you sued or thrown in jail, then your comfort zone may lie elsewhere.

VeritasGames
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Using clip art from the internet

By the way, you asked about getting a creator's permission. When you are on Google images you can open the web page which hosts the image. If the creator is the one who owns the web page, just look for contact information and email the creator. If not, ask the web page owner where he got the image from and do some detective work.

VeritasGames
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Using clip art from the internet

BTW -- what kind of images are you looking for that you can't find on clipart.com? Something specific?

markmist
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Using clip art from the internet

Lee,

First off - thanks for your detailed explanation on the subject. It was most informative. What I am attempting to do is definitely in the gray area and I have decided to exercise extreme caution.

While it might be nice to show the pictures that I found for the game, It is not completely necessary to explain the rules, so I have decided to leave them out. Besides, if I were to get the game published, I would have to do my own artwork anyways.

Luckily for me, my brother is a graphic designer/artist. Unfortunately, he has a problem with motivation getting started on something.

I still don't know what I should do about bringing the game to protospiel. Does anyone know if other people have used copyrighted art during the demo of their game?

Shrike
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Using clip art from the internet

I took a prototype of one of my games (my 1st) to a convention in CA back in '99. It was a card based combat game using the "WORMS" games from PC and playstation. I had some art right from the web and some screen shots. At one point my friend and I had 15 people playing/watching the game. I was given no problems. I really, really wouldn't worry about taking your game to Protospeil w/ the art (just my opinion though) Even if someone who did own the art was there and saw it AND got upset, the possibilities of being sued are small (again, just my opinion) it's not like your putting it on the net for free and letting anyone take the game out and about... I guess I just don't wory as much, but then again you can't get blood from a stone, so go ahead and sue me.... anyhow, by the time any of my games head to a publisher for consideration I'll have all royalty free or art I have the rights too anyways. Don't worry so much.... ^_^

Johan
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Using clip art from the internet

This is a question that comes up regulary (can I use others images?).

I think that this question (and the answer) should be added to wiki?

// Johan

VeritasGames
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Using clip art from the internet

Shrike wrote:
Even if someone who did own the art was there and saw it AND got upset, the possibilities of being sued are small

Agreed, particularly if he has only one copy of the game, isn't distributing it, and isn't trying to get someone to purchase his game for a profit.

Quote:
it's not like your putting it on the net for free and letting anyone take the game out and about...

It sounded like he might be considering doing that (people were asking for links to images). And that is a decidedly bad idea, particularly if he is considering making a profit on the game.

Quote:
I guess I just don't wory as much, but then again you can't get blood from a stone, so go ahead and sue me....

Um, in certain circumstances there is federal prison time. Unlikely as hell from one copy of the game, but much more possible with online distribution if you are trying to make a profit.

Quote:
Don't worry so much.... ^_^

I just gave him an overview of the law as I, a layman, see the law. I then gave him my best guess as to the likelihood of legal risk, which was low to non-existent in certain circumstances and higher in others.

Hedge-o-Matic
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Using clip art from the internet

Copyright law is the oldest legal specialization. The issues are so complex, people were asking really tough questions hundreds of years ago, and lawyers quickly grew overwhelmed with the complexities. Back when a lawyer practiced all formes of law, they still deferred to copyright specialists.

I've done enough work "for hire" to know that almost every word of copyright law has a complex legal meaning based on centuries-old British law usage. Even the "plain english" definitions have books of explanitory prose behind them. I've done work for customers as an illustrator where niether of us were really sure of the copyright tangles involved in ownership, and instead drafted our own agreement as to who owned what.

"Clip Art" is a new classification of distributable, and already has a huge amount of legalese associated with it, which is strange, since the idea of clip art was to sever the ties of ownership and copyright.

Basically, if you don't own a copyright to something, you don't have the right to copy it. Plain and simple. But in practical terms, the legal definitions are getting fuzzier by the day, which is why we see so much more of the "cease and desist" sort of thing. It's non-legal posturing, attempting to intimidate people and companies.

I wouldn't worry about using publicly available art during prototyping, but when it comes to final production, hire an artist. They're always cheaper than lawyers. (Sigh... I'm trying to change that...)

phpbbadmin
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Using clip art from the internet

Below is the end user license for the microsoft clip art gallery. Anyone want to take a guess as to whether or not Microsoft allows these images to be used in end works that can be sold? From my quick layman's glance, it appears they can be.

-Darke

P.S. Sorry for the lengthy post, but this appears to be on topic.

P.P.S. Anyone can access Microsoft's Clip Art gallery by going to http://office.microsoft.com/clipart . It's an excellent source of clip art and all of the images can be copied and pasted into your favorite vector based drawing application such as Corel Draw, Macromedia Freehand or Adobe Illustrator.

Quote:

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Shrike
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Using clip art from the internet

Back into the fray....

Veratis wrote: (on an aside I guess I need to learn to "quote" folks properly on the board)

Um, in certain circumstances there is federal prison time. Unlikely as hell from one copy of the game, but much more possible with online distribution if you are trying to make a profit.

You're right, I didn't mean to come off as flippant (did though) I was talking about prototyping and taking the one copy to Protospeil, not net distribution. I had forgotten about the posting on the board that he wanted to do. Although... (playing devil's advocate) if he did post it AND put a disclaimer with the game that he did not own the images nor was he using them to make a profit he might be ok (just my opinion) now, is that risky? Riskier than what we were talking about earlier, yes, but I guess it all comes back to what you are comfortable with. The focus of alot of lawsuits right now is on net distribution of info, but that is because the record industry can't figure out it needs good albums to sell at a reasonable price ^_^ not the stuff the usually put out.

Veratis wrote:
I just gave him an overview of the law as I, a layman, see the law. I then gave him my best guess as to the likelihood of legal risk, which was low to non-existent in certain circumstances and higher in others

And I for one, thank you for it, we definately all have to help one another and I agree that it is good Wiki fodder.......

Another quick question in all of this... is the clip art in microsoft office royalty free? I can't find my license paperwork for it and I wouldn't know where to look, figured I could google it but why not ask? How about if you bought a cd of clip art or there was some in a scrapbook program? How could I tell if it was or wasn't RF? BTW, found this site about a month and a half ago, LOVE it, i had no idea there were as many folks out there doing the same thing I was, I'm not the only crazy one! (The wife is much releived and just a little sared)

Shrike
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And Darkhorse answers a question while it's being typed... HEY! Stay out of my head pal!!! ^_^ Thanks for the info though....

VeritasGames
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Darkehorse wrote:
END USER LICENSE AGREEMENT FOR MICROSOFT ONLINE CONTENT

1.2 License Grant for Media Elements. The Software may include certain photographs, clip art, shapes, animations, sounds, music and video clips that are identified in the Software for your use (together "Media Elements"). You may copy and modify the Media Elements, and LICENSE, DISPLAY, AND DISTRIBUTE them, along with your modifications as part of your software products and services, including your web sites, but you are not licensed to do any of the following:

I've highlighted the appropriate parts for people who are licensed to use this software.

There are restrictions in the license on the distribution of these items.

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VeritasGames wrote:
Darkehorse wrote:
END USER LICENSE AGREEMENT FOR MICROSOFT ONLINE CONTENT

1.2 License Grant for Media Elements. The Software may include certain photographs, clip art, shapes, animations, sounds, music and video clips that are identified in the Software for your use (together "Media Elements"). You may copy and modify the Media Elements, and LICENSE, DISPLAY, AND DISTRIBUTE them, along with your modifications as part of your software products and services, including your web sites, but you are not licensed to do any of the following:

I've highlighted the appropriate parts for people who are licensed to use this software.

There are restrictions in the license on the distribution of these items.

Fair enough. But what are the restrictions? I know you're not a lawyer, but what is your personal take on the the language in this agreement?

It seems to me like I'm free to create and sell products that use the images in the clip art gallery. The only thing you can't really do is sell the images themselves or as part of a collection of images, you can't license the images, you can use the images if the images themselves are copyrighted (trademarks, company logos, etc) and you can't use them to create obscene works.

It appears to me, in the context of creating games, you can use them as artwork for your games AND sell those games with that artwork. Do you have a differing opinion?

-Darke

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Not commenting directly on the Microsoft license, but it is certainly true with most clip art that you have a license to use it pretty much any way you'd like except as clip art. That is, you can't sell the images for other people to use as images. Your product can use them freely, however.

-- Matthew

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Darkehorse wrote:
But what are the restrictions?

There are lots. They are scattered throughout the license. However, most of the key ones are all in one section:

Quote:
* You may not sell, license or distribute copies of the Media Elements by themselves or as part of any collection, product or service if the primary value of the product or service is in the Media Elements.
* You may not grant customers of your product or service any rights to license or distribute the Media Elements.
* You may not license or distribute any of the Media Elements that include representations of identifiable individuals, governments, logos, initials, emblems, trademarks, or entities for any commercial purposes or to express or imply any endorsement or association with any product, service, entity, or activity.
* You may not create obscene or scandalous works, as defined by federal law at the time the work is created, using the Media Elements.

In addition, you must (a) indemnify and defend Microsoft from and against any claims or lawsuits, including attorneys' fees that arise from or result from the licensing, use or distribution of Media Elements as modified by you, and (b) include a valid copyright notice on your products and services that include the Media Elements.

Quote:
I know you're not a lawyer

No, I'm the lobbyist and public policy director at a civil rights organization. I also do litigative consulting (I consult on legal cases).

Quote:
It seems to me like I'm free to create and sell products that use the images in the clip art gallery.

If you are a licensed user of the images. Did you buy their software?

Quote:
NOTE: IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A VALID LICENSE FOR ONE OF THE FOLLOWING SOFTWARE PRODUCTS (EACH A "SOFTWARE PRODUCT"), YOU ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO INSTALL, COPY OR OTHERWISE USE THE SOFTWARE: Office 2003 System, or any of its applications, or any product which includes Microsoft Clip Gallery or Microsoft Clip Organizer.

You wrote:

Quote:
It appears to me, in the context of creating games, you can use them as artwork for your games AND sell those games with that artwork. Do you have a differing opinion?

Licensed users can.

The license has one poorly worded sentence, unfortunately the most important one in the license:

Quote:
You may copy and modify the Media Elements, and license, display and distribute them, along with your modifications as part of your software products and services, including your web sites, but you are not licensed to do any of the following:

"You may distribute them as part of your software products and services"

The term "services" is not defined, nor is "software products". One could read this license as being limited to software-related distribution. Would that be non-print products? Or are "software products and services" those products and services created with the software? Poor wording.

However, I don't think that the intent of the contract is to limit usage only to electronic media, and as a contract of adhesion, vague areas in it are construed against the drafter so that I think even for non-software related distribution this license is applicable, if you are a licensed user.

Hope that helps.

VeritasGames
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FastLearner wrote:
Not commenting directly on the Microsoft license, but it is certainly true with most clip art that you have a license to use it pretty much any way you'd like except as clip art. That is, you can't sell the images for other people to use as images. Your product can use them freely, however.

Some older clip art collections did not allow any form of electronic distribution rights. Corel has retroactively allowed grants for electronic distribution on some of their older clip art collections.

Many clip art collections have terms of use ("Some images from Clip Art Collection XYZ" must be on your product, etc.)

Broadly you are probably correct, but there are notable exceptions and each license must be viewed separately to be certain.

I've also seen some non-commercial distribution licenses. Those are common with freeware fonts. You can't make a buck off many products produced with many freeware fonts without licensing them first.

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I certainly agree that licenses vary and that care should be taken. It's also true about electronic distribution, though I don't think that's what we're talking about here, fortunately.

Fonts that refer to themselves as freeware but have that restriction really frustrate me. That makes them shareware, not freeware: if I have to pay to use it, then I have to pay. I've noticed, as clearly have you, that many, many "freeware" fonts have that restriction. Definitely good to note.

-- Matthew

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FastLearner wrote:
I certainly agree that licenses vary and that care should be taken. It's also true about electronic distribution, though I don't think that's what we're talking about here, fortunately.

Actually, some people seemed (unless I misunderstood) to want links posted to the game, and thus we are talking, in part, about electronic distribution.

Re: Freeware fonts -- major pain in the butt. Bigger pain in the butt: for some dingbat fonts I want a license to use ONE character and they want me to buy an $80.00 commercial license for the entire font.

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VeritasGames wrote:

Quote:
I know you're not a lawyer

No, I'm the lobbyist and public policy director at a civil rights organization. I also do litigative consulting (I consult on legal cases).

Trust me no disrespect was meant by my comment. It is common practice, and kind of a running joke, to preface any statement about legal issues with "I'm not a lawyer".

Thanks for the info. I am a licensed user of microsoft word, so I should be good to use their clipart. It's amazing how much stuff really is available on their site.

-Darke

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Darkehorse wrote:

Trust me no disrespect was meant by my comment. It is common practice, and kind of a running joke, to preface any statement about legal issues with "I'm not a lawyer".

I did the latter thing once in this thread already, so I took no disrespect. I just posted what I do so that you'll know my background. I have some knowledge of the law from drafting lots of public policy stuff, but I'm not a lawyer. I do work with them on legal cases, though, on case strategy and expert witness reports now and again.

Quote:
It's amazing how much stuff really is available on their site.
-Darke

I wonder if it's any more or less than the standard stuff I got by installing Office XP? Because that EULA said you had to be a user of the 2003 version of Office to use it. I just have the XP edition, which I think is Office 2002.

Thanks.

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VeritasGames wrote:

I wonder if it's any more or less than the standard stuff I got by installing Office XP? Because that EULA said you had to be a user of the 2003 version of Office to use it. I just have the XP edition, which I think is Office 2002.

Thanks.

I'm not sure I understand your question here. The online clip art gallery is the same from office 2000 (when they first starting offering the service) up to the current version of Office 2003. Basically that means when you hit the button for clips online, no matter what version you have it takes you to the same content. As for the having to be a user of Office 2003, if you read down a little further you get the complete picture:

Quote:

Office 2003 System, or any of its applications, or any product which includes Microsoft Clip Gallery or Microsoft Clip Organizer.

As far as I know, all Microsoft Office suites from 2000 on up include Microsoft Clip Gallery or Clip Organizer. So basically if you have even a basic version of Microsoft Word 2000 then that includes Clip Gallery which then allows you to access the clip art.

-Darke

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Darkehorse wrote:
As far as I know, all Microsoft Office suites from 2000 on up include Microsoft Clip Gallery or Clip Organizer. So basically if you have even a basic version of Microsoft Word 2000 then that includes Clip Gallery which then allows you to access the clip art.

-Darke

I didn't know that about Microsoft Office suites, since I almost never use their clip art gallery.

Thanks for the info.

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