Just because it’s online doesn’t mean you can use it …


Do you know how to protect you and your company from claims of copyright violations?

Just because it’s online doesn’t mean you can use it …

The article in this link above is a good reminder of a few things:

  1. Just because you find a photograph or graphic online (or an article or song or video) doesn’t mean you have the right to use it. Search Google images for a topic, you will find thousands upon thousands of images … almost NONE of which you are legally allowed to use for your own purposes.  Google saves images from every website it indexes … Google Images is not a repository of photos which are free of copyright restrictions.  There are a few such sites online, and a few with very affordable purchase options of images to use.  Best practice – NEVER use Google Images or any other search engine.
  2. Right to use the photo doesn’t necessarily mean the PERSON in the photo has given you the right to use their likeness (these are two SEPARATE things).  For example, I may post a selfie and not actually copyright the photo, but you are not allowed to use any image of me without express authorization to do so.  Examples of people’s photos being used without authorization are here http://abcnews.go.com/Health/woman-weight-loss-photos-stolen-sell-diet-pills/story?id=23736944 and here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2984851/Woman-lost-57-kilograms-left-shocked-photo-used-promote-weight-loss-scams.html.
  3. Just because you aren’t making money off the image you find and use, still doesn’t mean it’s legal.  There are multiple forms of copyright protection.  Some allow you to use an image if you aren’t using it for commercial purposes.  Some allow you to use it however you want if you attribute the artist.  Some allow NO use.  You can read some articles about unintentional infringement here http://blog.webcopyplus.com/2011/02/14/legal-lesson-learned-copywriter-pays-4000-for-10-photo/ and here http://www.contentfac.com/copyright-infringement-penalties-are-scary/ 

These reasons are why I make a CUSTOM graphic images for website and social media postings, or purchase images to use (and edit) – so that we do not violate copyright or other issues, and so that our clients do not unknowingly violate copyright issues. Understanding copyright law is part of professional graphic arts training.

If you’re using a professional marketing, graphic, copywriting, or other professional, make sure they’re a true professional who knows what they’re doing – including how to best prevent you from being sued for copyright violations.

And let’s not forget

#4. Common sense of not being offensive to another human being could have prevented the issues in the article linked above.



Note I am not a lawyer, and definitely not a copyright lawyer.  A little common sense will go a long way – best bet is to assume everything is copyrighted, and only use it if you know you have permission to do so.  When in doubt check with the person who owns the image/article you want to use … or your attorney.

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