Rules to Use Web Images

Marketing is a key element in any business. Business owners are constantly generating content to promote their business. And in order to make their content attractive to readers, they are also looking for interesting images. Of course their biggest resource is the internet. But not all images on the internet are available for use.

My client, Anna, is a fashion blogger and owns a retail fashion store in New York. She used an image she found on the internet in one of her blogs and credited her source. In a few months, she received a takedown notice from the photographer alleging that Anna had used his image in her blog without permission and should immediately take it down to avoid further legal action.

Anna inquired with me whether a response to the letter that she had appropriately credited the photographer for the image would be appropriate. But Anna did not get the right to use the image merely by crediting the source. The right thing for Anna to do was to either seek permission from the photographer to use the image or purchase a license from the photographer to use the image. Anna failed to do either and not only had to take down the image from her blog but also compensate the photographer.

The photographer demanded $5,000 as compensation for the image. I negotiated with the photographer on behalf of Anna and settled the matter for a lower amount. Crediting the source, or ignorance of the law did not absolve Anna of her liabilities under Copyright law.         

Every creation, like a photograph or painting or any other work, acquires copyright by default. In order to use that creation, you must seek permission or purchase a license to use the work. Failure to do either constitutes violation of the copyright.

Due diligence is required to search for the owner or creator of the image and seek permission to use it. Creators can change or renounce their copyright under certain conditions, if they so choose.

Creative Commons License is the most common license in use on the internet with different layers of licensing options available and rules for use. Public domain images are usually labeled so and are free to use.     

Copyright law is complicated. Luckily for you, there are attorneys who know, understand and advise on this complex area of law.

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