Copyright Infringement in the Age of the Internet

The Internet has made it easy to blur the lines of copyright infringement. As easy as it may seem to copy or download off the Internet, anything you see has the potential of being protected under copyright laws. Works are no longer required to be registered or have a copyright notice. Taking something off the Internet and then posting it, is considered the same as publishing or distributing under the law.

What is required for a work to be protected by copyright?

1. Fixed in a tangible medium
2. Original
3. Creative

Copyright begins the instant your work is produced in a tangible medium. The creator of the product is the only one that can:
-Make copies, distribute or publish the work
-Make changes or revisions
-Perform or display the work in public

Avoiding Potential Issues

As you begin creating or updating your website there are a few things to keep in mind. This is particularly true when it comes to images. It is very easy to do a simple Google search for any image you can possibly need, download the image and add it to your website. Next thing you know you find yourself opening a cease and desist letter. A cease and desist letter may include a request of royalties for the use of the photo or a request to delete the image all together. It is important to remember that “not knowing” is not an excuse and will not save you from possible fines. If you continue use of the image after a letter has been received this may lead to an increase in fines.

You can avoid any issues by:
-Following up with your web maintenance company. Make sure that you approve all content and images before posting on your website.
-If images that you did not provide were added to the website, ask for proof of license.
-Use royalty-free images that can be purchased online and reused without paying again.
-Get written permission if using trademarks or symbols on your website.
-Certain images purchased from online libraries may have certain limitations such as length of time it can be used.
-Always read the fine print, even if it says “free” it may not be really free.

Still have questions? Contact our SEO Specialists at Revive Media Services today.