“Oh, we didn’t know that was actually a copyright violation,” is one of the most common defenses posed by online intellectual property violators. In a majority of instances, copyright violations are unintentional. It’s really easy to copy something and paste it into a blog now, for example.
For businesses, a simple copy-and-paste job could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and legal fees. Therefore, it’s important for companies of all sizes to pay attention to how various material originating from third parties are being used by employees.
Common Unintentional Copyright Violations
Some small businesses don’t know the company has violated someone else’s copyright until a massive lawsuit is declared. This is obviously not a situation any company wants to be in. So, to avoid a potential legal issue, be aware of the following common online copyright violations:
1. Posting Images On Blog Posts
Most businesses these days have blogs. While the written content may be original, business blogs often use images from third party websites. It’s very important to be careful when using images found online. Don’t use an image assuming that it’s free to use. Free images are clearly marked as free.
You can go to a stock image site such as Pexels or Pixabay to find stock images with “public domain” licenses, which means that the images can be used for free. Always check whether the licenses allow commercial or non-commercial use. Businesses cannot use any image or other content prohibited for commercial use.
2. Reposting Content From Other Sites Or Sources
By now, most bloggers, social media posters, and marketers are smart enough not to copy and paste content taken from other sources. However, in the case that such content is used, the source should be clearly declared. If a business blog uses text from a local newspaper, it should be stated that the text comes from this particular newspaper. Even material found in newspapers can be copyrighted. Therefore, always state the original source of any content.
3. Using Music Tracks On Promotional Videos
This is an easy way to get in trouble. Recording companies are notorious when it comes to suing alleged copyright violators. Therefore, do not use any music tracks in your video that comes from a recording studio. Even if it’s a symphony orchestra, double check the original copyright statement.
Avoiding Unintentional Copyright Violations
For small businesses, step one of avoiding copyright violations start with being aware of how intellectual property law works. It’s highly recommended to get assistance from consultants, such as Corporate Business Solutions, to identify the company’s own copyrighted property as well as possible violation issues. Also, make sure to read “terms and conditions” of documents issued by publishers of online content. If your business wants to use something The New York Times has published, read the newspaper’s terms and conditions document for reposting content online first.
Beware Of Predatory Practices
As copyright violations are rampant online, several spurious organizations, sometimes law firms, scour the net for violators and threaten to sue. Most companies fear the PR and legal implications of a lawsuit and settle for massive amounts. Such agents that go around suing are known as copyright “trolls” or predators. To avoid being victimized by a copyright troll, hire a lawyer that specializes in copyright violations. Also, read up on the proper legal procedure for copyright violations.
Knowledge is the key to avoiding unintentional copyright violations, as well as the trolls. Use the above info as a starting point for a more comprehensive internal policy.
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