Add Images Responsibly
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Words may drive the search engines and dictate the ebb and flow of traffic, but the Internet is really a place for eye-catching graphics. Bold splashes of color, dancing pictures and other dazzling additions are added to every Web page for one reason: they work. These elements entice traffic, help pages stand out and illustrate otherwise boring, plain text. You probably already know, in fact, that you should add images to your Web site. But do you know how to add images responsibly?
What You Need to Know About Copyrights
Copyright infringement. These two menacing words could easily be the undoing of your Web site and even your bank account, depending upon how severely you’ll have to pay. The Internet is certainly a free-for-all when it comes to information and content; anyone can read as much as they like. But there’s often nothing free about the bright images that so please the eye. And though you may not know it, you might be breaking the law by using images you find at random on the Web.
Photographer A snaps a shot of a bird sitting in a tree, naming this masterpiece “Bird on Branch.” This image is then uploaded by A onto a Web site about migratory habits in aviary creatures, a site which A owns. You happen to have a site dedicated to North American bird-watching, and it just so happens that the bird on the branch is a rare species found in certain parts of a single state.
You need the photo, so you download it onto your computer and quickly upload it to your own site. Whether you know it or not, whether Photographer A knows it or not, you’ve just broken the law.
All intellectual property (anything created through writing, design, photography, painting or other medium) can be claimed under a copyright; that’s when someone declares themselves as the owner/creator of the materials. Pictures uploaded onto Web sites, for instance, almost always fall into this category, as most sites are copyrighted. If you start copying content -- even if it’s photos -- without the express consent of the owner of that photo, you could be in violation of the copyright laws.
And they’re pretty intense. Even if you don’t see a copyright symbol or other notice of ownership, anything that has been privately created (even a photo) still falls under copyright protection -- no patents or paperwork necessary. If you are found violating someone’s copyright, you could be forced to dismantle some of your site, pay a fine or suffer greater negative publicity and penalty.
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