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Images and other media types liven up your website and other marketing materials, but it isn't a great idea when you're using stolen content.

How to Protect Yourself from Copyright Wrongs in Marketing

Key Points:

  • Images and other media types liven up your website and other marketing materials, but it isn't a great idea when you're using stolen content.
  • Besides executing research for the right content and finding the right keywords, you must ensure your MSP protects itself against copyright mistakes when marketing.
  • Even as a business that isn't in the creative industry, your MSP is still at risk of copyright infringement if you use an image, video, or music without the creator's permission.
  • The best way to protect your MSP against copyright infringement is to ask for permission from the original creator or to verify the material source.
  • Otherwise, you might end up on the wrong side of copyright laws, which can cost you several thousands of dollars.

When it comes to the internet, one of the best things to keep in mind is copyright law.

Unless you have permission from the copyright holder, using images, videos, or music from other websites is illegal. The act counts as stealing and can result in the owner taking legal action against you.

Even when outsourcing your marketing or web design needs to a freelancer, ensure they only use legitimate sources for their images, video, and music. Otherwise, your MSP would be responsible for copyright infringement, which might cost you several thousand dollars.

Our Recent Client Caught on the Wrong Side of Copyright Laws

We recently acquired a new client, and he emailed a frantic email. The client got a letter from a law firm in California — Higbee, and Associates. The letter said that the client had images on his website that were not authorized and that he had to pay $2300 to settle with the law firm and image creator.

The letter that came to the client was almost a year old, which shows that the problem can go back many years. We called the law firm, negotiated with them, and got the fine a little down. However, the important lesson you could learn is that you should establish the image source that your MSP uses.

If you aren't working with an MSP marketing organization, and instead you work with a freelancer from Upwork or Fiverr — trace the image source. Check where they're getting their material from.

What Count as Copyright Violation

Unlike popular belief, even a photo without the copyright symbol on the internet can be copyrighted. Using images you found on Google, Bing, Yahoo, or any other search engine risks attracting hefty penalties for copyright infringement. If you didn't take the photos on the search engine, you might not have the right to use them.

After all, creators don't have to register their work with the U.S. Copyright Office for it to be copyrighted. When an author creates an image, audio, or video, they automatically have the copyright to that work. The creators don't need to do anything else to have a copyright on their work.

Unlike trademarks and patents that require the owners to register their work and pay a registration fee, creative people don't need to register their work with the Copyright Office to enforce their copyright in court in the U.S. You'll likely be on the wrong side of copyright laws if you download random images on the internet and use them for your site.

How to Not Break Copyright Laws While Marketing

The best way to avoid unauthorized use of copyrighted work is to establish the source of the creative work. Ensure your freelance website designer or your marketing agency is getting their images legitimately from sources that are not copyrighted.

For instance, here at Ulistic, we agree with Getty Images to source all our images through Getty.

Our team knows that they are not supposed to go and lift off any website whatsoever. Everyone at Ulistic knows they aren't supposed to Google images and download them. Similarly, they can't get photos from free image sites.

The only authorized image source is Getty Images, which is in our SOPs.

Copyright doesn't just stop at images, but video files, music files, and anything else your marketing agency freelancer is giving you. You must know the source material.

You don't want something to come back and bite you in the neck later. Ensure you understand where the materials are coming from. Don't fall victim.

The Media Creators Have All the Resources to Track Their Creative Media and Get You to Pay

Never kid yourself. The image creators have the tools to scan the web for a signature file on an image or other media files and find it. Once they find you, the next thing they'll do is hire a law firm to go and blanket your company.

If the law firm collects on 25 or 30 companies in violation, they'll reach out for a monetary settlement. If they don't press law charges, they'll harass the crap out of you until you cave in. 99% of the time, they'll negotiate with you for a quick resolution.

The charges are similar to the injury-attorney type of business. The incidence is like ADA compliance or ambulance chasers — they're all just in it for the money. The law firms mostly win. Otherwise, they wouldn't be doing such cases.

While most settlements are out of court, they'll ensure the offending company compensates the creator.

The Best Way to Prevent Copyright Infringement

Regardless of who is marketing for you, ensure you understand where your image is coming from. Don't accept any work from anyone unless you know exactly where the creative material comes from.

If it's a legitimate organization like Ulistic, we source from Getty Images, have the agreement with Getty in place, and ensure we're using proper stuff. Otherwise, you risk incurring hefty fines that your MSP can avoid.

Ulistic Can Protect Your MSP from Copyright Wrongs When Marketing

Just because it's easy to grab an image, audio, or video from the internet doesn't make it the right thing to do with your marketing. You need to know how to keep yourself out of trouble and steer clear of copyright problems.

Our marketing experts know the ins and outs of copyright and can protect your MSP from copyright infringement. Contact us today to protect your business against penalties for copyright infringement.


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