Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Copyrights Of Images And Photographs

Many creative artists, mainly after the arrival of YouTube, people see to have a lot of confusion in the concepts of copyrights. So, let’s take a look at all the most important and pondering questions with regard to the copyright of images and photographs.

     1. What is copyright infringement?

In other words, it is known as piracy, the use of the works which is protected by the copyright law without permission for a usage when there is permission required to publish such work, thereby infringing upon exclusive rights which is granted to the copyright holder. Including but not limited to the right to reproduce the work, distribute the work or display the protected work, or to make derivative work from the original work.

     2. I used royalty-free images, I should be okay?

It is important to understand that “Royalty Free” does not actually mean that the work is “Free”. Royalty-free material is subject to copyright or other intellectual property rights. However, these types of images may be used without the need to pay royalties or license fees for each use, per each copy or volume sold or some time period of use or sales. Royalty-Free is a type of license used by stock photography agencies to sell stock images, this typically means you pay only once for use of this image, which can be used in various other ways specific to the sources published license agreement.

     3. What if I as the website owner, was not aware that the image was copyrighted material?

Playing that card will not get you out of jail on copyright infringement claims. By the criminal and civil law, “strict liability” is considered to be a standard of liability under which a person is legally responsible for the consequences following a respective deed even with the absence of the criminal intent.

     4. What if I found the content in question using “Google Image Search” while searching “free images”?

Many images exist on the internet. This does not mean that they are public domain and free to use.  Again, unless the source provides a legal license agreement that permits the use of this image with no further compensation, then I would not trust this source, nor would I use this image.

     5. How do I know if an image is copyrighted material?

To learn if an image is copyrighted, I would first consult with the source of the image. If the source is not able to confirm or deny if the material is copyrighted, then I would assume that it is. If you did not produce or create this image, chances are someone else did. Without written documentation or a licensing agreement provided by a trusted source, I would not use this image.

     6. What if the guilty party removes the copyrighted content after being notified of illegal use of the image?

Simply getting caught red-handed and removing the image will not clear you of your wrongdoing. Same is if you were caught stealing a car, the damage has been done and these attorneys will seek compensation and payment of applicable retroactive licensing.

     7. What if the image in question was included in a web design template that was purchased, are the images included?

This depends on the contract and/or terms of use provided by the template creator. However, most stock image libraries and agencies who manage the licenses for images, do so under exclusive contracts with professional photographers and therefore maintain an exclusive representation of these images. As a matter of fact, if you read the licensing agreements provided by your template developer, I would bet that there is a legal statement which generally states that something to the effect of the demo content which was provided on this website simply intended to provide a sample of ‘how a website could look when implemented.’

     8. What if I paid a person or web design company to create my website for me, and they inserted the images into my website?

A good and honest web designer or website development firm would have outlined terms in their agreement relative to image licensing. Those terms would either state that the client is responsible for image licensing, or they would have a separate line item and/or budget in your contract established for image licensing. Images are typically licensed for a very specific use. If the image and/or photo was licensed for use on your website’s domain, then you are clear. Simply provide documentation of your licensing agreement and you will be cleared of any wrongdoing.

However, if you do not have this documentation which secures licensing specifically for use on your domain, then per the Copyright Act, unless you have a contract that states otherwise, the owner of the domain is ultimately responsible for all the content posted on this domain.  Same as if you were to use copyrighted text, you could be held liable for stealing any content. This is why it is important to use a reputable web designer and/or web design company that will provide a written contract that should clarify who is responsible for the licensing of images to be used on the website. A simple statement such as “Website owner is responsible for licensing of all images” will suffice in passing the buck as to who is responsible for licensing of images.


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