Copyright is important, majorly important. Whether you are a photographer or someone looking for a nice image to use online for a blog post/ad/web banner etc.. you can find yourself with major problems if you or someone else runs afoul of copyright law. As a photographer this could mean lost earnings and even years spent in court - which is also expensive. As a user you could be looking at tens of thousands of dollars in fines and settlement fees.
Here are 5 tips to help you navigate this legal minefield:
1. Everything is copyrighted
This is not an assumption. This is legal fact. Everything is copyright protected. The second you hit the shutter on your camera and make a picture, you are the owner of the copyright for that picture. That goes for everyone. If you find a photo online and it says nothing next to it about licensing.. then it is by default “all rights reserved” copyright.
That means you cannot use it for anything, at all. But you want to use it? Ok, well find out who the picture belongs to, and ask! They might say yes, they might even let you use it for free. But if you don’t ask and the copyright holder finds out.. you haven’t a legal leg to stand on!
2. Google image search = BAD
Google image search is NOT a free image search tool. All google image search does is index all images on the web that its crawlers can find. It does not differentiate between 'free to use' and 'copyrighted’. In fact, its harder to determine through google image search what is and isn’t available for use.
IF you insist on using google image search, then first go to settings>advanced search and scroll down to the last option box labelled ‘usage rights’. Then select the option “free to use,share or modify, even commercially”. Why this option? Because we make money from our posts on steemit and so that can be interpreted as commercial use. Even then, it is your responsibility to ascertain that the image is indeed free (google isn’t infallible).
THE SAFEST option is to use stock image sites like stocksy, pixabay, stock exchange etc. Stock imagery sites have free use image libraries you can search.
3. Creative Commons
If you haven’t heard of creative commons as a content creator then what rock have you been living under?!
Creative Commons is a licensing system that allows people to attach specific license types that simply and clearly denotes they types of usage they will allow for their work.
Here you can see what they are:
If one of these licenses are not attributed to an image you find, then the all rights reserved copyright applies.
The best type of license to look out for is CC0 as it allows completely free usage of any kind!
You can also search by license type on certain sites, for example flickr. This link here takes you to a page on the flickr site that allows you to search images by license type. I recommend this: https://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/
4. Properly attribute the images
You NEED to properly attribute the image. The Creative Commons website explains how to do this in the context of their licenses: https://creativecommons.org/use-remix/get-permission/
If you do not attribute images properly then the assumption is that you are claiming it as your own work. That is theft and will definitely get you into trouble if you are caught.. it will certainly get your ass flagged on steemit and that will hurt your rep score.
If you aren’t sure if an image is creative commons attributed, then at the very least include the source link and who the image belongs to.
5. Don’t be a dick
The old adage “it is better to seek forgiveness than to ask permission” is bullshit. See how well that works for you in a court of law. Answer: not well. If an image is licensed and you cannot use it or you have already been forbidden from using it, then don’t. And if you ignore all my advice and do it anyway, and you get caught then there is only one way to handle the situation. If the person is willing to let it go if you just remove the image then do that immediately with profuse apologies. If they want you to pay for the license or take it down .. then you choose one of those options and apologise. If they don’t want to negotiate at all and instead are determined to take you to court, then cease all communications and lawyer up. All communications will be handled through your lawyer and you do what they tell you.. it could get expensive.
Whatever you do .. don’t be this jerk:
You would think he would learn his lesson after all the money he had to pay, but apparently he hasn’t. He still thinks that everything on the internet is free and his for the taking (except his own content of course) and that photographers maliciously put copyrighted materials online to entrap people like him. NO. Just NO. Chasing copyright thieves is a time consuming and expensive task and though you might get some money from it in the end, it could take a long time to see that cash and all that time could have been spent taking more photos and promoting ones business. Nobody wins.
Remember, photographers and other creatives make a living from the images they create. By using their work without permission you are taking away potential income from them.
Thanks for Looking.
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