We work with many people on their internet marketing strategies, and one of the most important things we emphasize is the importance in avoiding being sued for copyright infringement. Most of us wouldn’t dream of taking something that isn’t ours, but somehow, when it comes to content on the internet, people’s eyes gloss over and the picking begins. Snatching images or blocks of well written text from someone else’s site is very easy to do and can be irresistible to some folks. Given the enormity of the internet, many feel that the likelihood of the true author finding out is akin to finding a needle in a haystack but with web crawlers and the development of complex search engine algorithms, it is far less unlikely than you may think.
As a case in point, one of our clients was recently sued for copyright infringement and received a demand notice for $876 because they allegedly have a very small image on their site that is owned by someone else. This image has been on their site for more than nine years and company records show that permission was in fact granted at the time, but now the challenge is in digging up proof. The short of it is that searches are carried out and acted upon on a regular basis.
The foregoing story reflects the most typical scenario for our business: copyright infringement relating to the illegal scraping of images from someone else’s site. Here are four straightforward approaches to avoid being sued for copyright infringement.
- The simplest way to avoid the situation is to just create your own content. There are many free graphic design software packages to use for the creation of graphics and to handle photo edits on images that you own (www.gimp.org, and www.inkscape.org)
- If you don’t have artistic ability, consider paying to have design work done from scratch. Engage a local community college student to create your designs for a low-cost solution.
- Select existing images that are for sale on sites like www.istockphoto.com , many/most of which are very reasonably priced
- Navigate to creative commons sites where works are available for download as long as you provide attribution to the author (http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/by-2.0).
There are lots of ways to come up with your own graphics, photos, and text, and everyone should leverage them. Creating your own unique content helps to build your brand in an original and interesting way and helps you avoid being sued for copyright infringement.
(image by Nisha A.)