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Chicago Lake Front

Use this image and go straight to court!

It’s addictive isn’t it. Talking directly to your customer through Facebook. Posting that humorous photo of a pug dressed in a tuxedo. Or what about posting a YouTube video with a cat dancing to “I’m Sexy and I Know It,” by LMFAO an electronica duo to your blog. Oh so funny. Ha, Ha. And oh so very illegal.

Yep, when you post content that doesn’t belong to you, that is copyrighted by another, that is licensed by a music company to your online social media space you are breaking the law. You could be sued. And as anyone who has heard of Napster knows, that lawsuit can have dire consequences.

Sure, we’ve all heard of Napster, so we’ve all learned to stay away from uploading Hollywood movies to our YouTube channel and using Metallica music on our homemade videos.  But as the recent Department of Justice raid on MegaUpload shows us, people who use the Internet are not really concerned with copyright laws.

If you are a blogger, social media marketer, content curator or YouTube afficiando you can’t be as nonchalant about copyright violations. The reason? You could get embroiled in a lawsuit.

Check out what happened to WebCopyPlus! The web content management company which supplies web content to its client among other services had to pay $4,000 because one of its writers grabbed a photo form a website without permission.

And don’t think you’re covered if you use social networking sites like Facebook, Pinterest or YouTube. When you read the fine print of their service agreement these networks hold YOU responsible for copyright violations. You agree to post content you have vetted. And if someone sues, rest assured they’re suing you first.

So how do you stay on the right side of the law when posting images, videos or other content to your digital platforms? Just following these easy steps:

  • When in doubt post only your own content. You don’t have to worry about licensing, and copyright violations because if you create it you own it.
  • When searching for images online look for royalty free, unlimited use or licensed by Creative Commons images.
  • If you see an image you just have to have, contact the owner of the online page that sports the image. Make sure they own the rights to the photo you want to use and negotiate with them.
  • Avoid grabbing images that have uncertain copyright status. It could save you thousands of dollars.

In an age where it’s criminally easy to right-click an copy an image or paragraph of content you see on the web don’t give in to temptation. Your lawyer and wallet will thank you!

Try these online resources for free use images:

Good businesses don’t steal. Especially if you don’t have to. Don’t be lazy. Get make sure your content is free of burden. Happy content making!