I’m a business consultant, not a lawyer. I don’t dole out legal advice. With that said, I do want to make you aware of a potentially costly legal threat — image copyright infringement.
First, here’s a true story to give you some context. I know a business owner who launched a new website a few years ago. Incorporated in the design were several attractive stock images that were provided by a web developer with whom he had contracted to create the site. Recently, this same business owner received a rather bulky envelope from a law firm. It included a letter asserting that the rights of their client, a professional photographer, were being infringed. How so? The letter claimed that this business owner was using two of their clients’ photos on his website without proper licensing. The law firm provided ample legal documentation on each photo and demanded that the images be removed and that a significant chunk of change be paid to settle the matter.
How did this business owner respond? Initially, he tried to get receipts from his web designer to prove that the images were properly licensed, but they had somehow disappeared. Then he spoke with his attorney. To make a long story short, he’s a busy entrepreneur and didn’t want to spend his time on this sort of thing and neglect his business, so he wrote a check for just over $1000 and settled.
Sadly, this scenario isn’t all that unusual. According to these recent articles, and many others, the situation I described may be far more common than you think:
Getty Images Lawsuits: Enforcement Or Trolling? Fear Of Letters Dwindling, Stock-Photo Giant Hits Federal Courts
The $8,000 Mistake That All Bloggers Should Beware
Perhaps it’s time to chat with your attorney if you think you might be at risk. As the old saying goes: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
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