November 10, 2023
This isn’t a guide on how to get away with using copyrighted content, but a quick guide on how you, a responsible website owner, can avoid getting copyright infringement claims in the first place by simply complying with copyright laws in your area!
In a digital landscape boasting over a billion active websites, and witnessing the daily creation of thousands more, the challenge of copyright infringement has reached unprecedented proportions. In response, content creators are taking a stand by turning to copyright protection agencies to safeguard their rights, their livelihoods and their work.
Copyright Claims are not scams and Copyright Protection agencies are real! So it’s time to educate yourself on the basics with Copyright Agent so you avoid the pitfalls of non-compliance.
In brief, Copyright laws across the globe form a legal framework granting creators exclusive rights to their original works for a period of time after their creation. These works can include photographs, music and software.
Contrary to popular belief copyright protection is automatic upon creation and typically lasts for the creator's lifetime plus an additional 50 to 70 years. So even images and music made 100 years ago could (theoretically) still be covered by copyright law!
Some of the rights granted to the creator are the ability to reproduce, distribute, display, and perform the work. Basically, they decide who gets to use the content, who gets to publish the content and in what context the work is used.
Well, they were created to provide creators with incentives and rewards for their efforts. If anyone could use your work without paying you for it would undermine the economic viability of creating original content.
Copyright laws allow creators to control and profit from their creations for a set period, after which the work enters the public domain for broader use and dissemination. This system fosters the ecosystem of originality while still safeguarding the rights of creators.
With that out of the way here are our Top 10 Tips to Avoid Copyright Infringement:
1. Don’t re-publish random images from the Internet! - Did you know that just downloading an image from the web could land you in hot water? That's right, the seemingly innocuous act of copying and pasting an image could lead to legal trouble, fines, and even copyright infringement lawsuits. Everyone should know this but it bears repeating.. A hundred times!
2. Remove Copyright Protected Content from your website - If you don’t know where you got the content from and you didn’t pay for it you should remove it. Leaving content you have published online without permission to do so on your site is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Remember claiming ignorance of copyright law is not a valid argument once you receive a copyright claim.
3. Pay For the Use - There are more sites out there selling photos, music & videos that you can use in your projects than there are stars in the sky! If you invest in high-quality, licensed content from reputable sources not only will you be copyright compliant but you will also elevate the professionalism and appeal of your projects through licensing.
4. Buy the Correct License - Ensure you buy the correct license type for how you intend to use an image. If you buy a license for use in a presentation you are still infringing copyright if you then publish the presentation online! Conversely you might end up paying more than you needed to - Do your research as buying the wrong license can be costly!
5. Document your Right to Publish - There’s nothing worse than not being able to prove you have a license. When you, or your team buy the rights to publish an image, make sure you keep records of these licenses and permissions. Team members come and go but copyright law is here to stay. Without documentation there’s a potential heap of liability coming your way.
6. Screenshots of an image.. are still copies of an image! - There is little difference legally whether you “right click” and save an image or you “screenshot it”. Once you publish it on your website or non-private social media account, if you don’t have a right to do so, congratulations - you've infringed copyright. So just don’t.
7. Caution with Fair Use - It’s not a Universal Free Pass! Firstly, Fair Use is a US legal concept, and its application may vary in other jurisdictions. Secondly the conditions with which Fair Use is assessed are complex - it is not a given that your blog about frogs publishing a copyright protected photo of a frog qualifies as educational use especially if you’re not a recognised educational institution!
8. Respect people’s work - Behind every photograph is a photographer, behind every song is a musician. Copyright laws exist to protect these creators. Don’t assume that they, or the company who holds the rights to their work, are happy for you to publish it without permission!
9. Create Original Content - Why not try creating your own unique content to ensure there are no copyright infringements. Take photos, get creative! Note there are a few exceptions here too: avoid photographing private property or individuals in situations where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy. And if you’re getting paid to create content your employer may hold the copyright to anything you create, depending on your employment agreement.
10. Educate Your Team (including web designers!) and Build a Culture of Copyright compliance - Empower them with knowledge about intellectual property law ensuring they understand and adhere to best practices in content usage and protection. Remember a team member’s mistake is still your company's liability (even if that team member has left).
If you follow these 10 essential tips, you are already well on your way to proactively navigating the complexities of copyright law and have already significantly reduced the risk of facing a copyright claim. Remember, compliance not only demonstrates your respect for the rights of content creators in the digital ecosystem but also protects your own interests.
Copyright Agent - www.copyrightagent.com