Go ahead and monkey around with your content marketing images, marketers. But remember to attribute all of the artists — even if they’re monkeys. Because copyright infringement lawsuits are expensive, but content marketing that includes images gets a much as 94% more views.
So even though a court ruled Monday that animals, especially the selfie-taking macaques whose images were the subject of the PETA-filed copyright infringement lawsuit, can’t sue, plenty of other shutterbugs can. And trolls who sue for copyright infringement scare CMOs.
Last year, content marketing consultant Dennis Hammer wrote “What I Learned About Image Copyright Law From an $800 Violation.” At the time, he was Fluxe Digital Marketing’s content marketing director. Hammer writes:
“I found an image through a Google search and posted it to my client’s website. The image was the property of a popular stock photo source, but I didn’t know that at the time.
“Two months later, my client received a letter from the stock photo company explaining that their image had been used without proper licensing (meaning they knew my client never purchased rights to use it).
“They included proof of their ownership, a link to the image’s sale page, a link to the client’s website where the image appeared, and even a screenshot of the offending page so I couldn’t remove the image and deny the whole thing.
“There was no mistake: I had violated their copyright on a commercial website. From the stock photo company’s perspective, my client and I were making money using their unlicensed image.
“They demanded the image removed and $1,200 as compensation.”
Hammer haggled the price down to $800, then settled.
Here’s how Hammer and Jayson DeMers, writing for Forbes in 2014, advise marketers they can avoid the same fate:
Give Proper Image Attribution
Even free images have rules.
“Proper attribution may be a legal requirement for using royalty-free images, depending on where you get them; but even if it isn’t, it’s common courtesy to give credit to the image’s creator.”
- Make Sure Copyright Holders Retain Their Rights. “Most resources will provide you with a short code you can copy and paste into the bottom of your blog post to provide this attribution,” DeMers says. Hammer says that’s an embed code, which is an HTML code that allows the owner to retain the image rights — and also means the copyright holder can break the code or make it stop working at any time.
- Ask the Copyright Holder for Permission or Follow the Provided Guidelines. “If there‘s no code to copy and paste, see if there are alternative instructions for attribution,” DeMers says. Hammer says if there’s no information at all regarding licensing, it never hurts to contact the creator by sending an email or reaching out through a site’s contact form or via social media.
- Follow the Directions. Hammer says to adhere to the licensing information. DeMers writes: “Generally, you’ll want to credit the author of the image, but if there’s no information on an author (such as a name, or account user name), you may need to attribute the website by name. Also, be sure to include links back to where you found the image.”
- Watch for Hidden Copyrights. DeMers adds: “If a registered trademark or trademarked product appears in your image, be sure to include a note referencing that trademark. For example, if an Apple iPhone appears in one of your images, include a message such as ‘Apple, the Apple logo and Apple iPhone are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and internationally.’ ”
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.
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