Copyright infringement happens a lot more than we would like to admit. Even more, it’s not just small businesses, with a low budget, who sometimes use copyrighted images without buying the rights.
As it turns out, the big guys can screw things up as well. There are quite a few famous cases of copyright infringement and, some of them even helped redefine the legal framework for protection rules and regulations in order to make it more clear cut. Still, even today, when the legal system is well-built, there are new situations that confuse everyone.
However, if you want to make sure your business is safe from copyright issues and that no one uses your creations without right or that your people don’t infringe on other people’s Intellectual Property (IP), you need to do the work and learn about the things that could influence your activity. On the other side, you can hire a specialized law firm (like Heer Law) to help with the research and more.
Meanwhile, here are some of the most common copyright issues companies need to be aware of, and how to deal with them.
#1: Using Copyrighted Content
Unless you bought the rights for it or you are using an item under a Creative Commons license, then it’s best to avoid using it.
Copyright is a method of IP protection that covers original works and gets into effect from the moment of creation. The author doesn’t have to apply for protection with a specific organization and it is a recognized international right. Although, many authors do register their works as a method of added protection and to prove they are the original creators.
This means that no one can use, reproduce, or distribute someone else’s creation without their explicit accord. Additionally, this right is universally applicable, all over the world. So, the act of using an image found online that isn’t marked by a Creative Commons license, it’s similar to stealing from a brick-and-mortar shop.
How to Stay Protected?
Both companies and individuals can stay safe from using copyrighted content by paying attention to the source of the item. For instance, you can use images marked as being royalty-free or free of use for commercial purposes (there are even platforms for this type of content). On the other hand, you shouldn’t use images posted by someone on their social media feed. Just because they shared the image, it doesn’t mean it is free to use.
#2: Text is Also Copyright Protected
While it’s easy to understand that the text from a book or a literary work is protected against copy, the same doesn’t seem to apply to random texts you find online.
For instance, if you find a great text for a 404 page (displayed when a not found error is encountered), you can’t just copy it and use it as your own. The same goes for texts posted on social media, blogs, and other online channels.
#3: Author Not Found
You find a fantastic image or a great text online, but when you try to pinpoint the original source, it seems they’ve fallen off the face of the Earth. However, this does not give you the right to use the material.
In fact, if you use it, there is a high chance the author will find you and take legal action against your company. And, while some authors are understanding and will appreciate your initial efforts, others may not want to hear about it.
So, instead of risking a legal dispute, it’s best to only work with content you know you have the right to use (meaning the author has given their explicit consent).
Online content is among the most plagiarized in the world. After all, it’s easy to duplicate and share, which makes people believe they can get away with it. However, there are other ways to generate leads and bring people onto your page. Even with a small budget, you can still build amazing websites and have a fantastic social media presence. So, don’t fall into the trap of using copyrighted content without permission.