Many people don’t realize they are breaking copyright laws when they save and post images to their Facebook wall, tweet them, post them to their tumblr blog or post them anywhere else on the internet. Copyright, especially now in the digital age can be tricky. Many people believe that in order to hold a copyright one must register the image. This is untrue. Once an image is created in the United States it is protected by US copyright laws. Many photos posted and shared illegally will go unnoticed. If an image creator discovers illegal use of their image the results can range from a simple cease and desist order to an account being frozen or closed to facing fines and lawsuits.
Facebook shutting down pages due to copyright violation –
Woman sued for using web photos –
Group sued for using copyrighted photos –
Best Practice – If you see an image you want to post anywhere online, ask for permission. Email the image owner and ask if you may use their image. Explain in detail what you’d like to use the image for. It is also a good idea to verify that the person you are talking to is the owner of the copyrighted image.
If you are unable to contact or find the original copyright owner the next best thing is to link to the page the image is on. When possible site the source of the image. Give credit where credit is due. This technique eliminates most of the risk of getting a cease and desist order because you are not taking credit for the image.
Worst Practice – Save images and then post them as your own. Unless you’re using the image under the Fair Use Act (http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html) you are most definitely violating copyright laws.
Of course this blog post doesn’t cover Creative Commons rights (http://creativecommons.org/). That is another blog post for another time.
All of the information written in this blog is from what I’ve come to understand of copyright laws, it is by no means definitive or legal advice. Let me know your thoughts.
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