Imagine this: you’re sitting at a bar with your friends when you notice the coaster your drink is on is…wait…is that a picture of you? To some degree, you’re in luck. You could sue for up to $150,000 for copyright infringement, or in some cases, up to $6 million!
In fact, some businesses are even built around winning these copyright infringement cases.
BYLINED is built around using other people’s photos and we know it can be hard to figure out how to source images in blog posts and other marketing materials, but we’re here to help.
We’re going to lay out the Do’s and Don’ts of using photos from the internet!
1. Assume that all pictures are copyrighted by the person that took the photo. Copyright protection is automatic. The © symbol is no longer required by law.
2. Ensure that you have the explicit right to use the photo how you intend to, especially if you’re a business.
3. Take letters of improper use seriously. If you receive a letter, take the photo down immediately until you can verify that you have explicit right to use the photo.
4. Do the work upfront so you do not face thousands or millions of dollars in lawsuits later.
5. Read the Terms of Service/Conditions/Use for all of your social media platforms. Yes, it is extremely boring, but each platform has their own, very specific, rules.
6. Learn from the experts. Companies like Starbucks, GoPro, and Apple are great examples of using user-generated content properly.
1. Rely on “fair use” to be applied to your case. Get explicit right. Courts use a 4-factor test to determine if “fair use” is in play.
2. Use a photographer’s work in a way that damages their ability to make a profit from it.
3. Use a photo from an Instagram hashtag campaign. Although there is strongly implied consent present, explicit consent is needed.
4. Assume that someone that posted the photo owns the photo. It’s the person who actually took the photo who owns the photo. The first question you must ask to use a photo is, “Did you take this photo?” Then ask if you can use it how you would like. Brands often also send model releases after they get permission to use the photos to protect themselves from further liability.
5. Assume that you can use someone else’s work as long as you credit them.