Copyright infringement – don’t get caught out!
Whether it’s promoting your business on social media or creating content on your own blog, it’s vitally important to make sure that you’re not breaching copyright. Whenever you create an image or video, you have automatic copyright over that content – even if you then choose to make it public or share it on social media. You can chose to sell the copyright or give people the right to use the content – but by default the copyright stays with you as the author.
You can’t simply take images from someone’s website or social media, and if a bride sends you images a that photographer has taken of her wedding, you don’t have the right to use them.
Using images, videos or even social media posts without the express permission of the owner can quickly get you into hot water, and land you a fine for copyright infringement. Here’s how to avoid any nasty surprises…
When it comes to copyright infringement, pleading ignorance isn’t a defence – just because you didn’t know you were breaking copyright, it doesn’t mean you’re not liable. That’s why it’s important to know exactly which images you can use, and which you can’t.
Where to source your images
When it comes to using images on your blog or social media it is always safest to use images you’ve taken yourself.
If that’s not possible, you have a few options:
- Buy images from stock imagery sites where you can purchase images to use for a specific purpose. The price depends on the image size and what you’ll be doing with it. If you use a lot of images you can opt for a multiple download subscription rather than pay for each image.
- Download royalty-free pictures free of charge. The royalty-free sites tend to generate income from advertising rather than selling images. Some of our favourite royalty-free sites are Pexels and Pixabay, which provide images that you can easily download and use without needing to provide attribution.
- Collaborate with a photographer on a photoshoot or pay them to take photos of your venue or product, with permission to use those images for your own purpose. Some photographers will sign over the copyright as part of agreement so you can use the images however you want, but it is important to check.
Get written permission
If there’s a photo you’d like to use and you know the original source, you should get in touch with the photographer and ask for permission. Even if it’s a photo of your own work, design or venue, you still need to get permission – and it’s not enough to simply include the photographer’s name or even a link. We recommend getting everything in writing too, just to be extra safe.
Sharing on social
These rules apply to social media, too. Recently a judge in the US ruled that several media companies were in breach of copyright law after retweeting an image of a famous footballer, so it’s becoming increasingly dangerous to share an image that you don’t have the rights to. This doesn’t mean that you can’t share at all, though – most companies and photographers don’t mind a retweet, share or regram as long as you don’t alter the images and have included attribution and links.
If you get caught out…
If you have used an image in good faith which you then discover was covered by copyright, it is is important to correct the infringement immediately. To minimise the damage, remove the image or video while you confirm that the person claiming to own copyright is the genuine author (there are numerous scams). They are quite within their rights to request a reasonable fee and/or compensation for the use of their image but this should be commensurate with the losses they have suffered as a result of you using the image and your commercial gain.
Our advice… get snapping! Ensure you have a good library of your own images that you can use whenever you need them, rather than risk using an image that might be covered by copyright.