You can't use photos from the internet

For reals. This is a common mistake and all too often new business owners don't find this out until they receive a cease and desist letter, or worse the other party may jump straight to a lawsuit. You need to assume all images on the internet are copyrighted. A copyrighted image does not have to visibly display that they are copyrighted so that can make things tricky. But not for us, we now assume all images have a copyright on it.



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Assume all images are copyrighted


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So, what exactly is “copyright”?


Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.


Copyright is automatic and does not require one to file anything or register anywhere.

This law applies to everything you do/create at the moment you created it. Graphics for your site or social media, online training, blog posts and so much more.



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Copyright is automatic and does not require one to

file any formal paperwork


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We used to be required to display the copyright notice © 2019, Complianceology for copyright protection to apply, but now it’s just a recommendation and best practice.

Generally, copyright rights last for the life of the creator plus another 70 years!! Once the copyright rights expire, it is now up for grabs free for anyone to use.


Now, do you know what an image copyright tracker is? It is a service you can buy to constantly scan the internet to see if anyone is using your work. Yup, that's a thing! AND if you copy/paste images from a search engine, social media, or elsewhere, and use them, you could be violating the Terms of Service for the social media platform you’re using AND infringing on someone else’s copyright rights!!


So, now that we are assuming everything is copyrighted you need to ask for permission before using the image. If the copyright owner ignores your request or says “no”, DO NOT even think about using it!!! Remember the first paragraph about cease & desist letters or a lawsuit!?!


There are free sites that offer stock photos that you can use that grant you a license for personal and commercial use without having to give credit to the photographer. My fave site is Unsplash and they do give you their info should you want to do be a kind human.



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tl;dr


>> Copyright rights protect an original work of authorship (not ideas);

>> Copyright rights are automatic in the United States

>> You can’t just use photos you find online or on social media. you can still be found liable for copyright infringement if you say I “didn’t know.”

>> Make your own graphics or use stock photo sites



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