Save Yourself from a Copyright Violation

by | Mar 23, 2021 | Tools | 0 comments

Image source: Unsplash 

I hope by now, we all know that just because we saw an image on the internet, it does not mean it’s generally free for us to use as we please. A real-life example can be drawn from a situation a marketing person in my company faced a long time ago, when the company was small. Not long after taking the job, in her first few weeks, she received three cease and desist letters because some of our employees had used copyrighted images for various means. The situation was resolved when Getty Images agreed to apply any fines towards a subscription, so we then started using Getty Images under proper legal circumstances. For those not familiar, Getty Images is a provider of stock photos, images, videos and now music tracks, for purchase.

If you should find an image, and want to make use of it, you need to discover who created the image and ask for permission to use it. Image creators have an image copyright, or image ownership, granted as soon as the visual is drawn or photographed and includes maps, charts, photos paintings and any digital art. Over 175 countries are members of the Berne Convention treaty, which covers copyright rules. However, there is an exception called fair use. According to the US Copyright Office website, “Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances.” These circumstances could include “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.” If there is any doubt, consult the website for the full definition and terms.

Let’s talk about how a creator can protect their work. For this, we shall visit Creative Commons. On their website is the mission statement: “Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that helps overcome legal obstacles to the sharing of knowledge and creativity to address the world’s pressing challenges.” They supply image creators and organizations a way to grant a standard public permission for people to use their work, under copyright law. There are six different options available. As stated directly from their website:

 

CC-BY – This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use.

CC BY-SA – This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use. If you remix, adapt, or build upon the material, you must license the modified material under identical terms.

CC BY-NC – This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. 

CC BY-NC-SA – This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. If you remix, adapt, or build upon the material, you must license the modified material under identical terms. 

CC BY-NC-ND – This license allows reusers to copy and distribute the material in any medium or format in un-adapted form only, for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. 

CC0 – This is a public dedication tool, which allows creators to give up their copyright and put their works into the worldwide public domain. CC0 allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, with no conditions.

If you are unsure of which license applies to how you wish to share your work, there is a Creative Commons License Chooser which is an interactive tool to help you select the proper license, that is very easy to use by simply answering some questions. Once a license or CC0 is granted, it may not be revoked. You must also be the sole copyright holder or owner of the item where you assign a license.

What does this mean for the person wishing to use something they saw either by an image search, or in a video, or in a social media feed? You can’t just grab an image for use. You need to research the ownership and license rules. If that is more trouble than it is worth, you can get a subscription to the many image services available Like Getty and Shutterstock, or use royalty-free image sites such as Morguefile, Unsplash, Pixabay, the New York Public Library or Giphy. It would be prudent to consults the terms and conditions for these sites just to be sure you don’t take any action that is a violation. This list is not exhaustive, so if you have a favorite source, please share it in the comments so others may benefit.

Author: Joe Cannata

Joe Cannata, Certification Director for Kinaxis, has 20 years of experience in the certification industry, building and running three different programs. His extensive experience with the exam development process and item writing best practices includes blogs and presentations on the subject of certification. Using various platforms and strategies, he also ran the social media marketing for his programs. Joe was a community manager and champion for showing how social media can lead to certification program growth. He authored a chapter in the eBook, “Best Practices for Creating a Hot Certification Program (that Makes your Product Stickier)”. Joe is a frequent industry speaker, and is the Chair of the NISM Advisory Committee where he helps lead the SMS exam development, and serves on the NISM Scholarship Committee. Joe is also on the Credly Client Advisory Board and a Credly Platform Ambassador. He has a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education, and a Masters Degree in Applied Science and Computing. Joe lives in the North Atlanta suburb of Johns Creek.

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