Will that corporate blog post get you in legal trouble?

You can avoid a copyright fight if you check on the images you pull from the Web before you publish them.

As content marketing grows in prominence, marketers are increasingly looking for photos and other images to illustrate blog posts and other content. Here are few ways to ensure you are using photos legally online: Get familiar with fair use laws. These laws operate on a case-by-case basis, but there are general guidelines, which can be found here. The intent of the use of an image weighs heavily on how it’s viewed legally. If you purposefully copied a photographer’s photo and tried to use it for material gain, as opposed to using it in a school report, your intent may make the difference between winning and losing in a copyright lawsuit judgment. Investigate the source of an image before you right-click and copy it when “searching” the web. Just because you “can” copy an image that isn’t watermarked does NOT mean that you have the right to use it. Some search engines now bring up image results that aren’t easily marked that the images are actually being sourced from sites where they are protected. Get permission. If you are posting a photo on the social site or blog of a business, it is best to obtain images that you are sure you have the authorization to use. You can be sure of authorization by purchasing stock photos or utilizing a free stock image website or collection, such as Stock Free Images. You can join these sites, which then allows you to download without cost from their collections. By doing this you will be certain that you have a license to use the images you are downloading. Search smarter. You can search images under the “Creative Commons license,” which allows for images that the photographers have released for common use. Yahoo and Wikipedia, for instance, have images that can be used for common purposes. Cite appropriately. It’s safe to use an image found in a social media post if it is for educational purposes, such as a school project or if you are commenting on or criticizing the topic in some way. For instance, you could post on your Facebook page about the damage done by a hurricane and use a photo of that hurricane that you found via social media. When you do use a photo in this manner, it is wise to cite your source, giving credit to where you copied the picture. Give credit where credit is due. Use the same courtesy and respect for material found on the web that you would want someone to use with you. If it belongs to someone else, ask permission to use, buy, or license it from a stock photo site. Noelle Federico is the chief financial officer of stock photo site Dreamstime.com.


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