Are you breaching copyright? Photo credit: Jonathan Simcoe

Are you breaching copyright?

With access to an endless amount of content online these days, it’s no wonder that people are unaware of potential implications surrounding Copyright laws.

The number of times I’ve been asked by clients to use images sourced from Google is crazy. Whether that be using an image directly, or copying/recreating work from somewhere else, you CAN’T just use (or recreate) without obtaining the rights. Your Graphic Designer, or their studio, NEED to know this

As stated under ‘Copying Services’ on the Australian Copyright Council website:

“It is an infringement of copyright to use a substantial part of something protected by copyright without the permission of the copyright owner and if an exception does not apply.” So if someone else can identify the content as being someone else’s work/image, chances are that is classified ‘substantial’.

In addition, the article also states ‘Moral Rights’ of the user:

“There are legal obligations, under the Copyright Act, to:

  • attribute the creator of a work;
  • not falsely attribute a work; and
  • not do something with a work which is prejudicial to the creator?s reputation.

These obligations are owed to the creator even if the creator is not the owner of copyright. For more information, see our information sheet Moral Rights.”

So what are the penalties for infringement? Do you risk it?

Short answer, no way. There are instances where people would take the risk, but let me assure you that risk is not worth it, regardless of your company size or its location.

The Australian Copyright Council states:

“Copyright owners generally have the right to bring action against people who infringe their copyright, and to recover damages or an account of profits. (The term ‘damages’ refers to a sum of money intended to compensate the copyright owner for money lost, or spent, in respect of the infringement and will vary with the circumstances. An account of profits is the profit made by the infringer in selling the infringing copies).” In addition to this “The remedies and penalties are much higher where an infringement involves the reproduction of print or analogue material into digital or other electronic forms.”

So what can you use?

Stock libraries are a fantastic way to use not only imagery but illustrations, music and video footage too, so be sure to search and select ‘royalty free’ for ongoing use of the specific content. Also, read up on the licensing agreements, if you are wanting to put an image in something like a magazine that generates a significant readership (online or print), you may need to purchase an extended license.

The easiest way to avoid any issues is to use the correct outlets for sourcing content. It’s always better to be safe rather than sorry. On that note, check out the article ‘justifying your spend on a professional‘.

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