Building a new brand online takes creating a lot of new content. Finding good content to share and resources to use for marketing materials is a challenge. While looking for content, staying away from copyright infringement is an absolute must.
As you build your brand online, the last thing you need is an expensive lawsuit. There is content to avoid using without crediting the proper source you got it from. Also, not all content can be used even with proper crediting.
The content to avoid is audio, video, pictures, and of course writing. You can’t take any of it and repurpose it to represent your brand. You can share content in most cases if you credit the original source.
Just as you are starting a business and hoping to make money, others are too. That’s one of the reasons you should care about copyright infringement and properly crediting sources.
What It Is
Copyright infringement occurs when you use someone else’s copyrighted material against the copyright laws of your country and/or the creators country.
As soon as you create something, the material belongs to you and you have a copyright on it. If someone uses your work without permission, they could get sued for copyright infringement.
There’s a lot more that goes into defining copyright infringement but that’s why Wikipedia is a great source for the deep details. To make it simple for this post, copyright infringement is simply using or copying someone else’s work without permission.
Why You Should Care
Others want to make money just as you do. Most work you’re doing for your new small business is probably with the goal of making some money.Just as you like to get paid for your work, others like to be paid for theirs. Click To Tweet
Not only should you care because others put a lot of hard work into the content you find online but there are consequences for copying other’s work. Copyright laws protect creators. There are heavy consequences if you’re caught using work without permission.
Not only that but copyright laws vary from country to country. It’s not an excuse to say you don’t understand the copyright laws of the country where the work came from.
Copyright law in the United States is fairly robust. There are special lawyers that deal in copyright law but luckily there are some easy ways you can stay safe. I’ll cover some of the ways you can stay safe in later sections.
Hopefully fairly compensating those who put in hard work creating content is enough to keep you from copyright infringement. If it’s not, maybe the risk of having a costly lawsuit is.
There are heavy costs associated with copyright infringement.
It Can Cost You
The financial cost of infringing on someone’s copyright will put your small business in financial distress.
According to Purdue University, there are six possible copyright infringement penalties:
- Infringer pays the actual dollar amount of damages and profits.
- The law provides a range from $200 to $150,000 for each work infringed.
- Infringer pays for all attorneys fees and court costs.
- The Court can issue an injunction to stop the infringing acts.
- The Court can impound the illegal works.
- The infringer can go to jail.
As you can see the cost of copyright infringement is steep. Is it worth risking sinking your small business and (unless you’re an LLC) yourself?
Luckily there are simple ways to protect yourself from being caught up in a copyright infringement lawsuit.
How You Can Protect Yourself
I have an easy way to protect myself from infringing on other people’s copyright materials. Don’t take stuff from the internet unless you have paid for it.
Use stock photos if you’ve paid for them and have the right to use them. Don’t search for images on Google and use them. Searching for a picture on Google is a great way to get copyrighted images that break copyright laws.
Here are two simple rules you can follow:
- If you don’t know where something came from, don’t use it.
- If you’re not 100% sure it’s legal to use something, don’t use it.
There are plenty of free sources for images online that are OK to use for commercial uses. In fact, the one stock photo resource you need has thousands of free stock photos you can use for your small business.
This video tells you what to do if you want to share your work. Well, it also applies to if you want to make sure you’re following copyright laws and want to use work from the Internet.
The license you’ll want to look for?
CC0 means the author has waived all rights with the Creative Commons license. Just make sure the license is clear for commercial purposes also. You can have a CC0 license and not want it to be used for commercial purposes.
There are a lot of websites online that allow you to filter the results by Creative Commons. I use several for audio, photos, etc.
You won’t risk breaking copyright laws if you use content you purchased from commercial websites like DepositPhotos or iStockPhotos. Using CC0 content almost always ensures you’re covered under law.
Stay safe and either buy what you use or use only CC0 content.
Share Your Content
It’s a good thing to keep yourself protected but what if you want to help others stay safe too? You can use a Creative Commons license to tell people how they can use your work.Use Creative Commons to share your work and tell people how they can use it. Click To Tweet
This is helpful for content you create like infographics or blog posts. You may want to make it so people can share your content in small pieces.
Creative Commons makes it pretty easy to do.
The Creative Commons organization gives you an easy way to tell people exactly how they can use your work. Maybe you only want your work used for non commercial purposes. They have that covered.
It all comes down to being careful when using other people’s work.
Being Careful Pays Off
Being careful how you use other work and share your own will save you from financial ruin. You may never run into any problems using other’s work or you could run into a huge lawsuit. It’s best to stay safe and know you’re not breaking the law.
Others like to get paid for the work they do just as you do. Some people create work without expecting compensation. If that’s the case, they’ve labeled their work as such. If not, they create it for money just as you’re doing work for money.
Sometimes people expect their work to be shared for free. If that’s the case, they’ll label it that way and you’ll know it’s okay to use.
Treat others work as you’d expect your work to be treated.