When you start a business, the last thing you want to think about is that you may get sued. A common legal issue that continues to arise in our virtual society today is copyright infringement. This is quite prevalent in the world of blogging where imagery enhances our stories.
Imagine, you’re writing your latest article on your new green juice you made with your oh-so-precious Vitamix. Let’s be real, sexy sells. So you google “sexy green juice.” Up pops several pictures including one with the caption “Blender Babes” (yes, this is a real thing). So you decide that you’re going to post a picture in your blog post of these women in their bikinis with their blender – I mean you want to encourage more people to drink green juices for their health with the added bonus of getting a “killer bod,” right?
Guess what you just did? You committed copyright infringement. But I only copied a picture of a green juice? You committed copyright infringement, too.
We’ve all heard of “copyright,” but what is it? Copyright is a form of protection provided by law to the creators of “original works of authorship.” In the digital age, this protection has expanded to architectural design, software, the graphic arts, motion pictures, and sound recordings. Now there are certain situations where you can use a copyrighted material without permission; this caveat is called “fair use.” This would include commentary, criticism, or parody (such as SNL). The most common example is quoting part of a song or passage in a book in order to comment or write a review. In other situations, beware. If you really must use a certain image, in order to protect yourself, ask the owner for permission.
Now you may be thinking – how in the world will the owner of the image find me? There is actually technology that creates a “fingerprint” on an image so that the owner can trace violating uses. Even sneakier – the software can track the image if you cropped or altered it in certain ways.
Safest bet? Just take a selfie with your green juice.
Next time you are going to use an image for a blog post, ask yourself:
- Do I own the image?
- If not, do I have permission to use the image?
- If not, will this post fall under the category of either commentary, criticism or parody?
- If the answer is no to all of the above – either ask for permission, buy stock photography, or look to your own inventory of pictures. Better to be safe than sorry!