Posts in Intellectual Property
Blog Update: Intellectual Property Warning

This is an update to my November 15, 2013 blog: Intellectual Property Warning for Small Business Owners.  In the past, I discussed issues that might arise for small business owners if they intentionally or inadvertently use any photographs owned or licensed by digital photo agency Getty Images on their website, social media sites or any marketing content. Getty Images recently announced they are now releasing up to 40 million images that can be used for “noncommercial” uses in blogs, social media websites and other online uses for free.

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Intellectual Property Warning for Small Business Owners

The owner of a local small business contacted me about an unfortunate situation involving copyright law and online marketing. A year ago, she inadvertently posted two copyright protected images on her business’s Facebook page and website. Recently she received a threatening letter from a company called Getty Images demanding a large sum of money for a settlement amount for copyright infringement.

To prevent this problem for your business, make sure that you have properly licensed all of the images used on your website, or in any marketing materials or social media sites. Assume that any image you see on the Internet has some level copyright protection unless it expressly states otherwise. Copyright protections exist as soon as a “work of authorship” is fixed in a tangible form and they do not have to be registered, although registration is recommended. Copyright infringement does not require either knowledge or intent. Inadvertently or not, if you use a copyrighted image for commercial purposes without permission you are leaving yourself vulnerable to litigation.

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