Why you should always download content directly from the author
There are several free resources to help web designers and businesses market their sites and products online. Many of these resources offer free downloads and so the draw to do so is great. However, this may not be the best solution. If you are using a third party which does not have a direct linking to the author of the content, you could be setting yourself up for a great deal of frustration. Here are a few reasons why downloading or purchasing should be done only on sites which are directly connected to the source/ artist.
Number One: Copyrights
Perhaps the greatest reason why you should only download from a site which has the artist clearly identified is copyrights, or rather the lack of copyrights on non-identifying sites. When you download or purchase a song, 3D models, or image from a site, and then use that downloaded content on your site or business, you must give credit to the author (unless the artist has stated in writing that no such acknowledgement is needed). Failure to give the artist credit could result in copyright infringement and fines, which nobody likes.
When a site has a contributing artist and you purchase or download from the reputable site, in most cases you have a clear understanding of the use of the content. The author of the content will either state that the downloaded content is for personal use only, for commercial licensing, or free to use so long as credit is given back to the creator. Always check the licensing of a site to see how licenses are distributed to the purchaser/downloader.
Number Two: Uniqueness
If you are performing a search on Google, Bing, or Yahoo, then the odds are that you will choose content from the first source page. Per the Search Engine Journal, 75% of web visitors do not scroll past the first page of content when doing a search. Now, consider that there are over a billion websites available. If only a 10th of these sites were created using content which was searched and pulled from the first “royalty free” or “stock” site, then you are looking at 100 million sites having similar content.
Using sites which have a direct connection with the creator of the content greatly reduces the number of possible relapses in content. While the artist hopes that their content will be purchased by millions, the reality is that the numbers will be lower. For you, the website designer or blogger, the content which you use is more unique and less apt to get that “oh, I have seen that on this page” reaction.
Number Three: Questions are answered
Besides the danger of copyright infringement, recycled content, and perhaps hidden malware and viruses in the download from a non-credited site, using a website which does not have the artist identified limits your ability to ensure that what you are downloading will meet your purposes. You are stuck with what you get. While this may not seem to be a big issue when you are getting the content for free, if you are purchasing the download, it could be costly.
Having a direct connection with the artist will ensure that you can get answers to questions prior to downloading or purchasing a product. For example if you have a game site which needs character 3D models, and you wish to know if the model is low poly or high poly, if the model was created using NURBS, if it is customizable, etc. it would behoove you to have a direct line to the artist. Additionally, if you download music loops from a site, it would do well to know if the loops were created using plugins, organic inputs, or AI.
Number Four: Reputation
Your website’s reputation is very fragile. Like a person’s personality, it can quickly be tarnished with one bad word or one bad download. Having content which is flagged can tremendously effect your long-term SERPs. Downloading from third-party sites can compromise the security of your site. Should you have a leak due to malware or hacking into your computer from a download, that is something which clients will remember and share. And while we would love to think that bad content will eventually go away, internet content rarely vanishes. Yes, you may get that bad review or that mishap pushed back to page two where only 25% of viewers go, but why risk it.
Ensure that the content that you download is credited, that you have a direct link to the artist, that there is the ability to use the download without the need for royalties to be continuously paid, and read the terms and conditions of use. By doing so you will ensure that you have content which is not only unique to your site, but is legal and safe as well.