The internet is filled with usable content that could perfectly compliment your businesses marketing strategies, or instore décor perhaps. But how do you know what is legally ok to use and what isn’t?
Copyright infringement occurs when work is reproduced, distributed, and used without the owner’s permission. If you have ever received backlash for using content without permission, or avoided using other people’s content out of fear then it’s time to brush up on the legalities.
Speaking with copyright solicitors is the ultimate way to know if how your using content legally, but here are some tips to help your business avoid copyright infringement going forward for now…
1. Ask The Owner For Permission To Use Their Content
The easiest way to avoid copyright infringement is to not use any content without the consent of its owner.
When you see an image, piece of text, or anything else that you think could benefit your business, look to see if you can identify the owner. For an image on social media, this is most likely the account owner, but just in case watch out for acknowledgements in the post description.
In some instances, a written confirmation may be enough to avoid copyright infringement, but in other situations you might require an extensive licencing agreement. You may need something more legally binding agreement if
- If you would like to use the content of a large brand
- For particularly valuable or extensive content
- You want to use the content in an unusual way
At any rate, the most reliable way to avoid copyright infringement is to never use content without permission.
2. Know The Law Surrounding Copyright Infringement
If your business commits copyright infringement, even if it’s by accident, you may irretrievably damage your brand image and be forced to pay a hefty fine. To avoid this, it’s important that you know the laws surrounding the use of content.
Gaining a better understanding of copyright laws will give you the knowledge you need to avoid making costly mistakes. For example, if you wanted to use a particular piece of old music in a video for your business, it would be beneficial to know how long the duration of rights is. You may be able to use that music if it has been 70+ years since the creator passed away.
Additionally, having a good understanding of copyright laws can prevent you from using symbols or marks that have been trademarked by a company.
3. Take Advantage Of Royalty Free Images
The best way to avoid copyright infringement for your business is to create your own. However, if you can’t do this, royalty free images can be a great alternative. Businesses are able to license a royalty free image and then use it without paying any additional royalties to the copyright owner.
There are also a variety of services that can help you find royalty free images that use can use without fear of copyright infringement. For example,
4. Always Give Credit
For smaller creators and businesses, it is sometime ok to use content as long as you are clearly giving credit and have spoken to them first. Showing your appreciation for another’s work is an inexpensive way to avoid copyright infringement.
You should make sure to mention the name and brand of the creator and, if possible, provide a link to guide people back to their website or social media.
Although some people may be ok with this, not everyone is, so you should always get written permission to use the content in exchange for exposure and credit.
5. Create Your Own Content
If you want to be certain that you will not suffer from copyright infringement, the best thing to do is create your own content.
Hiring an artist, photographer, graphic designer, video creator or writer has many benefits. For one, you can produce unique content that showcases your businesses values and best promotes your brand. This content can be crafted in whatever way you would like and used freely as you will not have to worry about copyrights.
This method can also help you to safely build an arsenal of original material that will make your business stand out.
6. Have A Clear Policy On Copyrights
If you work closely with employees, colleagues, or other business, make sure that everyone knows what copyright infringement is and how to avoid it. By making sure everyone is on the same page, you reduce the risk of someone within your business making a mistake.
This may be done with a casual conversation that simply establishes key information and what to look for. An example of this would be letting a new employee know that you only use images from a particular royalty free website.
However, other situation may require a more thorough training session to ensure that this does not happen.
7. Build Partnerships With Different Brands
When reaching out to ask a brand or creator if you can use a piece of their content, you have the opportunity to take it a step further. If your business values and that of the content creator matches up, and if their work is something you feel like you could use again in the future, enquire about potential brand deals.
Securing a partnership with a brand would help you avoid copyright infringement and give you access to more content. They may not be interested, but some brands may be susceptible to a co-marketing opportunity. Creating a partnership like this can be the perfect way to bring fresh ideas to your business.
Don’t Get Caught Out On Copyright Infringement
As discussed, there are many ways to avoid copyright infringement, from understanding the law, asking for permission, and using free royalty images, to making your own original content.
With more people than ever visiting the internet every day to look at content, it’s important to be aware of what you are using for your business. Copyright infringement can not only lead to fines and legal repercussions but also a drop in profits and the devastation of your brand image.