Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tech Tip Tuesday: Images & Copyright Laws

Images and Copyright Law 
What You Need to Know For Your Website
We've all done it, admit it.  We've used stock photos, photos copied from another website, or photos we're not familiar with and put them on our website.  Maybe you had a web designer who used photos in your site design that you didn't provide.  If it's on the internet, it's all free, right?  Maybe you should read the rest of this article.

Images and Web Designers: Any images or artwork used in your website design that were not created by your hired designer, require them to disclose who the original artist or photographer is so you can pay the proper licensing fees for use of that art/image or attribute the image legally. It is your responsibility to make sure all image usage is legal by copyright laws. Some web designers may not be clear on the rules about copyright and licensing, so you can't always rely on them to make sure you are protected legally. Additionally, your website designer’s rights are not always transferrable to you. Which means if they purchase an image’s licensing for themselves, you may need to purchase your own usage fees for photos on your website. Ideally, communicate with your designer to make sure they secure the proper licenses for you (or provide your own original images). In summary: Regardless of who puts an image on your website, ultimately, it is the legal responsibility of you, the party who owns the domain, to pay for the images.

Take care not to use photos you didn’t pay for. If you have downloaded images off of the internet without paying for them, or without permission, you are in violation of the photographer's or the stock photo company’s copyrights. If you have done this or are still doing this, please start the process of removing them as soon as possible.

If you fail to secure the proper license for your stock photos, you put yourself and your organization at risk for getting in a sticky legal situation with a stock house company, which could cost you a lot of money you haven’t budgeted for.  Some of these companies can be aggressive in finding illegal usage of images on websites and employ “trollers” to find your site. They have been known to send out letters about the misuse of the images they find, along with a hefty invoice.  If that’s the case, you’ll end up having to pay for the use of the images anyway. (HINT: It will be a LOT more expensive than if you paid for the proper license to begin with.)  Think it won't happen to you?  It's happened to one well-known Pekin organization a couple years ago.

How do you avoid problems with online photos?
Simple. Don't use images you didn't take yourself or pay for, and make sure you’ve attained the correct usage license when you originally bought the image. This means, read the fine print when purchasing a stock photo and make sure you buy one that will cover your intended use of that photo. If your web designer uses images in your site design, find out if they secured your usage license. If not, find out who took the photo (or where the designer got the photo from), and buy the license.

A note about copyright law in the US: Copyrights are automatic and are created and owned by the person who created the image as soon as the photo is taken. In this case, it means the original copyright owner would be the photographer. However, if the stock photo service purchased the image from a photographer, they most likely acquired their copyrights as a part of that deal. If you are violating someone’s registered copyright of an image, they have the right to (a) stop you from using the image via Cease and Desist and/or Injunction; (b) not only make you pay for the use of the image, but make you disgorge any profits that you got from your use of the image (this could land in you big time litigation to determine what the money damages are); AND (c) they can make you pay their legal fees and costs of having to come after you for your infringement.

Bottom line: Protect yourself and pay for any photos you use by securing the proper license. Even better, take the photos yourself or hire a photographer and put 

Source:  Micronet January News Monthly Connection

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