It’s surprising how often people think it’s OK to use content on their website or social media pages that they find online.
Copyright almost always subsists in what you see online, and using that content without permission can get you into trouble.
The Cool Hunter
The Cool Hunter is an online business dedicated to showcasing design and culture and uses stunning imagery on its website and social media pages.
In 2012 it had 788,000 Facebook fans, with the community generating significant traffic to its website. Then Facebook shut its page down for alleged copyright infringement.
Under Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, users must not post content that infringes someone else's rights.
While admitting using images despite not always knowing who owned them, the owner claimed breaching Facebook’s rules was unintentional. Facebook clearly demonstrated that intention is irrelevant.
The owner created a new Facebook page which currently has around 107,000 fans. A far cry from its heyday.
Vincent Khoury Tylor
Tylor, a US-based landscape photographer, found that three of his images were used on the Today show’s website without permission.
Tylor filed a Federal Court claim against Channel 9 seeking $8000 in licence fees. The matter was settled out of court.
Who’s going to know?
Copyright owners have ways of finding online uses of their work. For example, image libraries use web crawlers to find unauthorised uses of its images.
They may then demand licence fees (which could be retrospective). Failure to pay could lead to legal action, with damages sought in excess of the original licence fee.
What do I do?
Before using copyrighted material, make sure you have the right to do so.
After all, copyright owners are entitled to earn a living from their work. Just like the rest of us.