For the London Free Press – May 27, 2013 – Read this at lfpress.com
It’s easy to copy video clips, music and photos from the Internet and use them on your own Website or ads. But we don’t have the legal right to copy and use published content for commercial purposes without the owner’s permission.
The use of video, music and images can be a powerful tool. But we can’t forget that someone created them, and we can’t use them for commercial purposes without the copyright holder’s consent.
Using such material without permission can result in an expensive copyright fight, and merely stopping to use it after a demand won’t end a damage claim. Copyright is one of the rare instances where the owner doesn’t have to prove actual damages. Using one photograph found on the net for a commercial purpose can result in a damage award of thousands of dollars.
So how can this risk be avoided?
If you hire someone to create an image or video, get either a copyright assignment or permission in writing.
If you found the image somewhere, make sure you have permission to use it.
There are many sources on the Internet that offer photos and other material for our use based on an express license. Depending on the source, prices range from free to expensive.
Licence rights vary widely, though, and must be read carefully. There may be restrictions on how the image can be used, what it can be used for, how many times it can be used or the size or resolution. For example, it’s possible to have rights to use a photo in print, but not on the Web. Sometimes images can be used for personal or editorial use, but not for commercial use.
Consider not only what you want to use the image for now, but what you might want to do with it in the future. It’s not unusual for people to get into trouble when they acquire the rights to use an image for their Website and later decide to use it in a brochure. But they forget that when they bought the rights in the first place, they paid only for the Web rights.
iStockphoto is an example of a popular image source. iStockphoto’s licences that apply to most of their images are detailed on their website at www.istockphoto.com/help/licenses .
iStockphoto’s standard licence includes rights such as print ads, the Web, video, book covers and stationery. That would include use on things such as letterhead, business cards and general promotional material. Standard rights do not, however, include the right to re-sell the image or to use the image as part of a logo or trademark.
Ultimately, think before you click. Before you copy an image found on the Internet, obtain whatever permission you may need to use it for your own purposes. This additional step — though more time-consuming than a simple point and click — may save you a tremendous amount of grief, embarrassment, cost and time. Your future self will thank you.