Copyrights, Stock Images, and Not Getting Sued

don’t get sued over the wrong picture

When it comes to finding engaging and entertaining photos or memes to send off to your audience, there’s no question that the Internet is your best bet. What may NOT be such a great idea is the Google image search you were going to use to find said picture for your website or blog. One of the biggest mistakes bloggers and businesses (both new AND old) make, is the implementation of onsite images that don’t have the right licensing or attribution.

While it may be tempting to screenshot any photo you found it on the Internet, all the images you find on the Internet have already been copyrighted. This means the creator of that image or meme has rights you may be infringing upon by using their work.

Take it from us—you should be careful and thoughtful when choosing images for your content marketing.

A Quick Rundown of What Copyright Means

The term ‘copyright’ actually refers to a set of federal laws in the US, established to protect the rights and original work of content creators. Keep in mind that copyright applies immediately and silently to all created or authored works. It’s considered an automatic right here in America.

The long list of copyright protections for content creators

Okay, so we’re not going to force you to sit here and read through these copyright laws. We’ll break it down for you. (You’re welcome.)

Section 106 and 106A of the Copyright Act delineate the protections established by copyright laws for content creations. Here’s a breakdown of what they protect.

Copyright protections under Section 106:

  • Reproduce or approve reproductions of the work via copies
  • Creation of derivative works based on the original copyrighted material
  • Sale or distribution of copies of the work and its derivatives
  • For performance-oriented works, an author retains the right to perform (or authorize performances) of the work and any of its derivatives
  • In the case of music or audio recordings, the creator retains the rights of both performance AND play

Copyright protections for visual works under Section 106A:

  • The right of a creator to claim authorship of his or her work
  • The right of an artist to prevent attribution of their name to any work that was not created by the artist
  • The right of an artist to block the use of his or her name as the author of an intentionally distorted or mutilated version of that work which may harm the original author’s “honor or reputation”
  • The right of an author to block the malicious destruction of their work

Exceptions to Copyrighted Works

While it is easy to get overwhelmed while trying to understand the nuances of copyright and licensing, there IS a silver lining called ‘Fair Use.’

Defining ‘Fair Use’ reproduction

Fair Use (or the rules of fair use) is what allows aggregators and disseminators of content, like libraries or newspapers, to publish the copyrighted works of artists—so long as they adhere to the rules of ‘Fair Use,’ outlined in Sections 107 and 108 of the Copyright Act.

Together, both Fair Use sections of the Copyright Act establishes that the reproduction of a Copyrighted work does the public interest in certain contexts and mediums.

‘Fair Use’ exceptions:

  • Criticism
  • Comment
  • News reporting
  • Teaching
  • Scholarship
  • Research

Unleash Collective Intelligence with Creative Commons Licensing

Although Fair Use does cover material reproduction for schools and news sources, what happens if you need to find images for commercial use? Luckily for you and the millions of Internet users out there, since 2002, more than one billion images labeled for reuse and distribution have been published under Creative Commons licenses.

What is Creative Commons?

Founded in the US in 2001, Creative Commons (CC) is a nonprofit devoted to providing free and easy-to-use copyright licenses that give content creators a standardized way of giving the public permission to share and use their creative work. Because CC works to protect the rights of authors, their licenses also allow artists to determine the terms of their copyright.

The intent of Creative Commons is to propel the realization of the Internet’s full potential by facilitating universal access to research, education, and cultural participation to “drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity.”

Creative Commons Licenses

Creative Commons released its first licenses in 2002, called ‘Creative Commons licenses,’ to the public, free of charge. This unique set of licenses not only allows authors to decide which rights they’d like to receive, but they also get to choose the rights they’d like to waive for public use or benefit.

Attribution/ CC BY

This CC license allows others to distribute, remix, and build upon an original work, even commercially, so long as the creator gets credits for the original piece.

Attribution-ShareAlike/ CC BY-SA

This license lets others tweak, remix, and build upon an original work, even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the same terms as your original work. This is the kind of license implemented by Wikipedia.

Attribution-NoDerivs/ CC BY-ND

This license allows for commercial and non-commercial redistribution so long as it the work is published unchanged and in its entirety, with credit being attributed to the author.

Attribution-NonCommercial/ CC BY-NC

This license lets others modify and build upon an author’s work non-commercially. New and derivative pieces must also acknowledge the author and be non-commercial, but they don’t have to license along similar terms.

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike/ CC BY-NC-SA

This one lets others modify or build upon an author’s work in non-commercial capacities, so long as the creator is credited and new creations are licensed under identical terms.

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs/ CC BY-NC-ND

This license only allows the download and sharing of content for private use, but the works cannot be modified or used commercially in anyway.

Get Free Images Through Creative Commons Platforms

  • 500PX
  • Bandcamp
  • Flickr
  • FMA
  • Internet Archive
  • Jamendo
  • Pixabay
  • Tribe of Noise
  • Vimeo
  • Wikipedia
  • Wikipedia Commons
  • YouTube

Take Advantage of Powerful Images without Getting Sued

Make sure your web presence strategy includes images that are cohesive with your brand and don’t infringe upon the rights of content creators. Fortunately, we know a guy (and a few gals) who can help you get the job done today.

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