Copyright ownership is a hot topic on the internet nowadays. With the spot-light coming from SOPA (US), ACTA (international), C-11 (Canada) and The Digital Economy Act 2010 (UK) it is now more important than ever to make sure that you do not fall foul of copyright infringement.
The above legislations focus broadly on copyright across the internet in general but here at SGIS, we want to make you aware of the issues more likely to relate to you. For many small businesses this is more likely to focus on the copyright of images on your website.
But it’s so easy?!?!:
Images are easily searchable (using Google’s image search tab), downloadable (with a simple right-click) and saveable. But were you aware that publishing or otherwise using these images without permission could leave you liable for cost and/or prosecution? If convicted by a magistrate’s court this can mean a maximum sentence of 6 months in prison and/or a fine of up to £5000! That’s without mention of the potential cost in a civil lawsuit from the copyright owner.
But how could they catch anyone I hear you ask? Previously, this would have required the owner of the copyrighted material stumbling upon the image. Nowadays there are several companies providing solutions. Companies like PicScout for instance; they provide an image tracking system (ImageTracker) for their clients (copywrite owners). This software trawls the web for images, comparing each to a database of protected images – when it finds one it will generate a report and inform the owner.
Doing it right:
So what can you do to make sure you don’t end up with a hefty fine/prison stay/bill from a disgruntled copyright owner? One obvious solution is providing your own images; digital cameras and image editing software are both abundantly available and affordable for most. If you prefer to leave this kind of work to the professionals then there are also a near uncountable number of stock image libraries out there (a Google search of “stock image library” should do it!). Many of these resources offer royalty free options (you won’t have to keep paying to use the same image) and have easy to use subscription/credit systems.
So remember, when editing and uploading to your website; don’t just Google and go. The web is becoming a more accountable place – and the hard work of others will no longer be easy to get-a-hold of, for free for much longer!