30th Jan 2017

Can I Use This? Why Brands Need To Understand Copyright

The internet is a great place for business, it’s a great place for sharing information, connecting with your audience and ultimately selling products and services online. Unfortunately however the internet can also have a number of negatives, including plagiarism, copyright issues and slander. 

With more people using the internet and online content being governed more, there’s now plenty of new laws in place to avoid stepping on other peoples toes.  With copyright rules getting stricter, it’s important that brands are aware of what can happen when you step over the line of being innovative and straight into the realm of illegality.  

What Is Copyright? 

Copyright protects all creative works from image and video content to text content and essentially defines the ownership of the work, how it can be used and who by. In basic terms copyright applies to any piece of artistic or written work you have produced, if you created it, you own it, giving you exclusive rights to display, sell or reproduce it however you like. 

Every time you use an image from Google and post it elsewhere you’re taking someone else’s image, ultimately breaching their copyright and potentially causing upset, which is why it’s so important you fully understand the concept of copyright.  

When Can I Use Someone’s Work?

Simply put if someone has given you permission to use their image or content then you’re probably fine to use it. A great example of this is by buying a license for stock images such as Shutterstock or Thinkstock. Buying a license for one of these sites allows you to use a certain amount of copyright free images per day for your social media or blog content, without stealing anyone else’s work.  

When Can I Not Use Someone’s Work? 

There’s a number of times you shouldn’t be using copyrighted images and text, especially when it comes to your business, while you might think your small business won’t get noticed for using a copyrighted images, it can and eventually will, so it’s important you know exactly when you shouldn’t be using other peoples works.  

Are You Making Profit From It? 

There’s no reason you should be using someone else’s image and selling it on. Imagine working hard on an image or piece of design work only to find that someone was selling it on and profiting from your work without your knowledge, that’s exactly what happens when you use someone’s image on your product and sell it on.  

Is It Hurting Anyone?

Just because your content isn’t hurting anyone or massively damaging their profit doesn’t mean it’s suddenly fair to use, you might think that using copyrighted images from big companies is fair because they already make lots of money, however that’s wrong. You should always get permission from everyone no matter how big or small.  

“I’ve Changed It, So It’s Fine”

Taking someone else’s work and changing it doesn’t make it fair to use, if someone else created the design, you making slight changes to the colour or simple image adjustments doesn’t make it yours and it doesn’t really allow you the right to use this work, meaning you shouldn’t be using the image unless you’ve got permission. 

While copyright might seem like an inconvenience for many, if you’re serious about presenting your business as a professional, serious and law abiding one you’ll need to know everything about copyright rules and regulations. Not only can knowing these rules stop you from using copyright protected content but it can also help you to protect your own content. 

With so many sources available for free images for social media and blog posts and a number of opportunities out there for your business to design your own amazing content and create great images, there’s no excuse for your business to be using copyrighted work without seeking permission. 

Don’t get caught out, know everything you need to know, protect yourself and respect the rights of other content creators. 

Article By
Sarah Seymour,
Published: 30th January, 2017

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