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Monday, September 8, 2014

How A Seemingly Harmless Share Can Get You Sued Under Copyright Infringement

Social Media is exploding and so is the increasing popularity of sharing gorgeous photos and artwork. Just take a look at Pinterest, Google Plus, Facebook and Instagram (and that's just naming a few) and you will see virtually a never ending supply of photos and artwork. After all, who doesn't like to see beautiful photos?

But wait, a seemingly innocent click to share something beautiful may have its repercussions under Copyright Law resulting in a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit. This post relates to United States Copyright Law which seems to be in line with the Copyright Laws in the UK. Most countries, but not all have copyright law, but US copyright law does not apply to other countries. See below for information about International Copyright Laws.




So what applies to United States Copyright Law?

  1. A work is automatically protected by copyright when it is created.
  2. Anyone wishing to use the work of another must have permission from the owner of the copyright holder
  3. Buying a piece of art or a print doesn't dismiss copyright.


What About International Copyright?

While according to Copyright.govthere is no such thing as International Copyright, protection against unauthorized use rather protection depends on that country's laws. Also, most country's offer protection on foreign works under certain conditions by the  two principal International Copyright Treaties: Berne Convention and Universal Copyright Convention (UCC). Clicking on the link above provides much greater detail.

IMPORTANT: 
Copyright Infringement is not excused by

Linking back to the work
Reducing the size
No Profit
Sharing
Including a Disclaimer
Attributing the Creator




With all due respect, these regulations need to be taken more seriously by society. In fact, just imagine, you are an architecht, inventor, salesperson, or any other business person. How would it feel if someone stole your draft, idea, sales strategy, plans, etc... Even worse is if they took it and took the credit for your idea/work. I'd wager that most would be raging mad. After all, the images and works produced by Artists and photographers are their livelihood and often their sole source of income.  

How do you find out if it's okay to use a photo?

1. Ask the Photographer
2. Search for Creative Commons Licensed Work
3. Search for Open Source works


On that note, with proper attribution included, anyone is free to share my photos or artwork on social media.


Below are some useful links. 

Wikipedia on Copyright infringement

Professional Photographers of America on Copyright

Copyright infringement Lawsuit covered by Forbes

http://blog.kenkaminesky.com/photography-copyright-and-the-law/

by Tina A Stoffel

sources: Copyright.gov, Wikipedia, Professional Photographers of America, Clip art provided by Creative Commons Open Clip Art