Copyrighted images and your site
Website designers and contributors should be careful not to use copyrighted images or material without proper permission. Not all online images are free to use. Placing a copyrighted image on your Web site or blogging is illegal. But how do you know if an image is copyrighted and can’t be used? Protect your website by making sure all images used are your own or authorized for public use. Learn more about copyrighted images from an experienced digital marketer.
Identification of a copyrighted image
There are several ways to determine if an image is copyrighted or available to the general public, and these include the following:
Use an image search like Google Image Search to find a copyrighted image. If an image links to a photographer’s or artist’s website, you can contact the owner of the image and ask for permission to use the photo and link to their site. They often say yes as it is free advertising. However, never assume that using a photo without permission is okay. Using someone else’s intellectual property without their permission is prohibited by law. Look for watermarks on images. Photographers and other artists use watermarks as logos. A watermark is a digital signature on an image. This watermark means that the photo is copyrighted and not available for use. Pay attention to the captions, the text that appears under the photo. Sometimes the text refers to the photographer or person who took the picture. Even though the author of a photo has given permission for someone to use their photo, this does not automatically mean that you can use it freely, you should contact the credited image author and request permission. Sometimes the artist or creator embeds their information in the metadata of the image, allowing everyone to see who owns the image and what are the rules for using it. After each upload, the image continues to contain its metadata. Metadata can be viewed by right-clicking the image.
Fair use image definition
Sometimes you will come across images and be unable to determine the copyright status, but you should always try to make sure that you are not illegally adding a photo to your website or content. A smart way to do a final check on copyright status is to use a reverse image search to determine the source of an image.
You can do this by searching the US Copyright Database. It is important to note that the creator cannot copyright all images, such as lettering, fonts, common and familiar patterns, symbols, and fonts.
Why is copyright important?
The photographer or artist will copyright the image to prove ownership. Copyright protects their intellectual property. No one may use, reproduce or display a copyrighted image without the permission of the owner, allowing the creator to receive payment for their work.
Copyright infringement may result in fines or sanctions. In addition, copyright infringement creates unpleasant public relations and can damage the online reputation of a business. This question will not help a growing law firm; it will only hold back its growth.
Can I request permission for a copyrighted image?
If you’ve found the perfect photo for your website and it’s copyrighted, don’t give up on your creative ideas. You can always ask the owner for permission to use his photo. A polite email might be all it takes.
Most likely, many photographers and illustrators will be happy with such attention and grant permission to use it, but asking permission is the right way to continue working with online images.
Requesting permission will prevent creative claims of copyright infringement. It is important to remember that the owner has the right to say no. If so, it’s wise to move on and look for another image.
When requesting permission, it’s a good idea to let the owner know how the image will be used. Owners want their photos not to be used irresponsibly or in the wrong way. Sometimes another law firm has already used the image and the owner will not sell the image to competitors.
Using images without copying
Some images may be used without permission. Some of them are free to use, while others require payment. Some of these free images include:
A quick online search will turn up sites with free images and photos. Individuals and companies can use these photos for marketing, but most photos must be linked to an artist’s portfolio or profile site.
The use of some images does not violate copyright. An example of this for scientific use. If a law firm wants to use the image to discuss a case, the creator can allow it for scientific purposes. In most cases, the law firm must link the image to the original creator. While permission may not be required for scientific use, it’s always best to ask the creator to avoid legal issues.
Creative Commons (SS)
The Creative Commons or CC images are copyrighted, but the owner has confirmed the rights for those who wish to use the images. There are many types of CC licenses, and most of them require the user to identify the owner of the image.
Images must be chosen carefully
Random image search does not mean that you can use any photo you like for free. Using an image without permission can lead to legal difficulties for your business and poor public relations. In most cases, images are copyrighted and the owner must allow them to be used, even if you see them online for free.
Finding the owner of an image and requesting permission can be a complex and time-consuming process. A digital marketing agency can help you manage image searches and obtain permission to use certain images.
Next Steps in Digital Marketing
You can take your law firm website to the next level by adding crisp and clear images. However, you need to make sure that the images are not copyrighted or you may infringe another person’s intellectual property rights.
Annette Choti, Esq. graduated from the Faculty of Law 20 years ago and is the founder Feather Law, a digital marketing legal agency focused on small and individual law firms. Annette wrote a bestselling book Click Magnet: The Complete Digital Marketing Guide for Law Firmsand hosts a podcast Legal Marketing Hall. She is a sought after keynote speaker and CLE speaker in the United States and Canada. Annette used to do theater and professional comedy, which isn’t all that different from the legal field, to be honest. Annette can be found at LinkedIn or at firstname.lastname@example.org.