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Wow, what a great looking website, legal nightmares anyone?

Aug 27th, 2010 | By | Category: eMarketing News, News

If you own a website that contains images, illustrations or pictures of any kind, then you should pay attention to what I am about to tell you. This brief piece of information could save you not only a substantial amount of money, but the stress and headache of painful unnecessary litigation, not to mention professional embarrassment in front of your colleagues.

I have come across many articles, comments and so forth of what seem to portray a legal nightmare for small to medium sized companies.  Stock Image Providers have the right to protect their property for their own clients -contributors- who have created this type of work. The most recent articles are written about Getty Images sending settlement demand letters for copyright infringements to companies all over the world. The issue has gotten so popular that it is suspected hundreds of letters have been sent out in the US alone, with the intent of reaching a monetary non-litigation agreement with the infringer. The amount of money requested as settlement is more than the cost of licensing the images, but less than the cost of legal expenses if agreement is not reached. Getty Images claims to be one of the largest stock photography houses in the world.

It is not my intent to discuss legal matters or to advise those who have received letters of reparation from Getty Images. My goal is to propagate proper design business practices with the intent of keeping good hardworking honest companies away from these shenanigans and focusing on what it is ultimately most important: the profitability of their businesses.

Nonetheless, I will recommend that you take this seriously and conduct your research about the usage of images on the internet and also the famous Getty Images letter whom everyone is talking about. Don’t take my word for it, do your own web search for knowledge. If you choose not to get educated about copyright law, chances are you will still be held accountable for your website’s content regardless of your ingenuous approach.

What do you think Getty is trying to achieve with this “settlement demand campaign”? One of the most popular self-righteous reactions out there: Is Getty getting greedy?

I believe this is a very simple issue. Getty Images is protecting their products, as you do with yours, by taking measures to prevent the diversion of such products to who hasn’t paid for them. Against these individuals, Getty is not only entitled to a fair return from the infringer, but also entitled to have their rights vindicated in a Court of Law. Right now, Getty Images is running the haunting for infringement, but many others will follow in order to stand up for their contributors, or as all artists would hope so.

If you do not hold the rights to the images contained on your website, you should remove them or replace them immediately. You shouldn’t wait until you get a settlement letter requesting proof of licensing for content found under your domain. Sometimes records are misplaced or lost, especially if your content has not been updated for the past 3 or more years –shame on you.

It will not serve you to place the blame on anyone but yourself.  You are the person responsible for what content is placed under your domain, and it is your obligation to make it a priority to have copyright for all of it. You should also be aware that it does not matter if your website has a commercial purpose or has only been created for personal usage. Copyright law applies just the same.

There is an easy solution for this issue. Take charge of your content and make sure you comply with the law. If you do not have proof for licensing the images on your website, you should get the licensing under your name or replace those images as soon as possible. For those who are not sure where to start, I have prepared an imagery compliance package that is very straightforward, fast and easy to implement.

Getty Images legal approach should be praised, not criticized. After all, Getty is looking after your best interest as well as its valuable contributors. The outcome following this popular infringement policing could be no other than knowledge gain, a more efficient web practice and the sound of a good night “nightmare less” sleep.

Credits and References
Article Source by Strategic Designer, Virginia Latour

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