Did you know that picking using random images from the web can land you in super-hot soup? Yes, that’s right! It could cost you a fortune and it could even bring your business to its knees. Welcome to the world of image copyright infringement, a very delicate area that many bloggers are unaware of.
Back in 2016, iHeartMedia were served with a shocking lawsuit over an unauthorized use of a photo of Azelia Banks on their website. Apparently, iHeartMedia had picked up a photo from the New York Post without looking for proper credit and licensing. The plaintiff, Christopher Sadowski was seeking a compensation of a whooping $150,000 for the infringement plus additional costs to cover attorney fees and a jury trial. This is just one example but it shows just how much it could cost you for posting a photo without proper licenses.
Understanding image copyright law
Most of us tend to imagine that before anyone can file an image copyright infringement lawsuit, they would first get in touch with the offender to pull down the posts and proceeded to corridors of justice if the requested isn’t heeded. Well, this is not the case and you may end up being caught off-guard even for posts you pushed online years and months earlier. As a matter of fact, you are liable to image copyright infringement even if:
- You post a copyrighted image accidentally
- You don’t use the image for commercial purposes
- You have placed a well written disclaimer on your site
- You found it on the internet(lame excuse!)
- You link back to the source
- The pic is embedded rather than uploaded to your server
- The picture is edited
- The image is licensed to a member of your team, in some cases you must have your own license.
As you can see, things are pretty tight and they are bound to get even tighter with the escalating number of predatory lawyers seeking to make money out of many ignorant bloggers and businesses out there. You do not want to fall prey to such attorneys and here are some few tips to help you steer away from trouble.
Best Practices For Using Images on The Web
- Find Images Under Creative Commons License
It is always wise to find images you can use anywhere and this where the creative commons license comes into play. A great place to find stock images to use anywhere is via Burst where most images are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero License thus you can download, copy, modify, distribute and display the images for commercial use.
- Seek Permission From The Owner
Well, it is not just enough to seek the permission of the owner before using the image, you should also find out if they are the full owners of the image. In some cases, you might find a situation where the images may be owned by a third party for one reason or another. Perhaps the images were created by a third party as part of employment tasks. So, always get more details about the image before using it.
- Use Your Own Images
Using your own original images is always the safest route but it is virtually impossible to get a picture of everything. That said, you can always use your own photos whenever possible but make sure you obtain a model release for anyone in your photographs for the sake of matters privacy.
Don’t over rely on fair use when it comes to using images you find on the web. It might not let you off the hook when things go sour. Think matters legal when you are looking for images to use for your blog posts and social media. To be on the safe side find images you can use anywhere from a place like Burst but remember to read the full licensing to know what you are allowed to do with the photo?