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Hello. Thanks for contacting us.
You show wisdom of the ages by simply asking the question. In a theoretical way, any item used can lead to losing a lawsuit for infringement, unless there exists written authorization from the copyright holder (written authorization could include following rules on the web, such as is used for things like "creative commons licenses" and their ilk).
You are right that a proclamation of free does not mean it is. And that means that each infringing copy could end up costing thousands of dollars in court-ordered damages for use.
Here are some ways to avoid:
(1) Use graphics from programs that the creator of the publication has licensed. Microsoft's Word and Publisher, for instance, have extensive "clipart" collections that come as part of the package when you buy the software.
(2) Use items at a "creative commons" -- where one registers and agrees to follow the attribution guidelines presented at the site. Unless the creative commons site is fraudulent (and essentially stealing content from others without authorization or payment), then following the procedures specified is pretty safe (although, as indicated, if the site itself is fraudulent, there could be liability -- rare, but possible).
(3) License a graphic cheaply. Some websites will sell licenses to use certain graphics at low prices. For a few dollars it is possible to find what is wanted, and get a written authorization to protect against possible infringement claims (which works, as with item 2, if the site itself is not fraudulent -- rare but possible!)
I wish you and the club every success!