My day job is in the web development business. Below is an article I published as an email newsletter to my clients and associates. It was also published in The Santa Clarita Valley Signal newspaper. I wanted to share with BrianCuda.com readers as I have received  positive feedback from those not aware that they were potentially violating the law.

[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” ]Over the last few years, I have heard from three different clients receiving cease and desist letters for content on their website. The infractions were innocent, intentions were good, but the results were thousands of dollars in expenses and fees.

First, let me tell you the one thing you need to remember to lower the chances of problems. This is wisdom from my dad. Ready?

NOTHING IN LIFE IS FREE.

Let me explain.

If you see an image or find some text while doing a Google search that works great for your site, blog post or Facebook page be sure to pay for it first.

Many times the images are located on a stock photo site and all you need to do it pay the license fee to get use of the photo. This use is limited so be sure to read the fine print.

If the image is not on a stock photo site then you will need to find a way to pay the owner somehow. Often times payment doesn’t include money. Most of the time the content owner just wants credit or acknowledgement.

Even if the content is listed with Creative Commons you will need to give credit as instructed and only use in the capacity allowed by that license.

If the content owner gives permission and doesn’t ask for anything in return, be sure to get that in writing. (still not free; it takes time)

If you can’t find the owner and not sure who to pay, don’t use it.

I have explained this to many clients and they feel that their site is “under the radar” or too small to get noticed. That is not a factor in the copyright violation complaints I have seen.

There are attorneys scouring the Web for violations and that is all they do. They are the Internet’s version of “ambulance chasers.” Their goal is to get you to settle quickly and give them a quick payday. Even if you win a case, it may take much time and money to resolve. All things that distract form your business mission and your bottom line.

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and not providing legal advice. This is a public service announcement to remind everyone not to use content or images from the Web without permission.

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Do you need to review your site and remove images or content that could violate a copyright?

 

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