In our final installment of “If I had a nickel” we are tackling image copyright. This is an incredibly important topic for content creators, website owners, bloggers, and people who just love to use photos & video on social media.
The complete “If I had a nickel” series:
- Transitioning to a new web provider
- Everything you need to know about Local Search
- Making the most of analytics and web stats
- What you need to know about plugins, site performance, and security
- Image copyright, licensing, and doing the web & social the right way
Stephan Hovnanian is a web strategist and email marketer for Shovi Websites, author of the Google+ Pro Tips series of ebooks on Amazon, and host of a weekly webcast called Google+ Business Spotlight. Stephan distills the content and advice out there on the Web into useful and applicable ideas to help your business make the most of its online presence.
Susan Finch of Susan Finch Solutions has a background in public relations and advertising since 1986, and is a “gentle guide for clients trying new venues online.” She engages those skills as she helps create an online presence that will appeal to existing and future clients and/or investors. All these factors are considered before she constructs a suggested plan for clients. It goes way beyond an online presence.
Featured Expert: Sara F. Hawkins
Sara is a business and social media lawyer who knows her way around the nuances of how technology, business, and the law come together. Sara is a sought-after expert and has helped countless business owners, bloggers, content creators, and entrepreneurs with legal, regulatory, and ethical situations relating to the online world. You’ll want to visit Sara’s website, there is a wealth of information to help guide you through these issues. But not now, because now you want to watch the discussion we had with her below!
Watch: If I had a nickel…
Don’t you love how the first thing out of Sara’s mouth was a disclaimer? And her lower third overlay says “content for information purposes only.” Brilliant.
Here’s what we tackled in this hangout:
Screenshots and photos of photos still give you the copyright of your image, but your image is an image of someone else’s copyrighted work (this is called derivative work). This also applies to memes and tutorial images used in blog posts.
Be sure to look for brand guidelines (Google has them) when marking up screenshots of websites.
Don’t crop out watermarks, or remove copyright metadata, this is a big no-no and could result in major financial repercussions.
Image Sources, Sharing Images, and Image Credits
Photo credit is not for copyright purposes, it’s for plagiarism purposes. A small but important distinction.
In this segment, we took a dive into Creative Commons, which Sara has explained in plain English on her blog. We also talked about best practices for crediting photos (use their name, don’t just link) and asking permission especially from photographers.
For stock photos, check your licenses! You might only be able to use your photos a specific way (for a blog post, or for a website, but not both). Now, how much this gets enforced is a different story, but as Stephan brought up toward the end of the hangout, all you need is to get slapped on the wrist once, and misusing images could cost you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars and time away from running your business as you sort out these issues.
Bottom line, most of this photo crediting comes down to good manners: saying please and thank you! When you ask, be sure to get the authorization in writing (email is fine).
Sara makes a good point about using the native Share mechanism from a photo website so that the platform shares the photo, not you (this would be versus downloading the photo then uploading it).
One great way to be unique with your photos is to take your own! However, when your photo includes someone else, you should make sure there is a model release (when the photo is used for commercial purposes). A few tips:
- If there are minors, ask permission of the parent, and get it in writing.
- Model releases are for humans, not pets.
- Photo and video contests usually have rules that include a model release requirement. If you don’t get your friends to sign off on your submission, you’re potentially liable if they don’t like how they are portrayed.
- People and Crowds in public do not need releases. But be mindful of if there is an expectation of privacy where you’re taking the photo (like at a school, for example).
- There are smartphone apps that allow you to get a release right on the photo.
Stock Photography Best Practices
So, webmasters and web designers, you need to know that when you buy a stock photo for your client, you have to re-buy it for the next client (unless it’s a developer or designer license that allows that type of usage). The client is not going to pay for your mistake.
Website owners, when your designer includes a stock photo as part of their design for you, be sure to inquire about the license structure of those photos! Because you are the one who gets the initial notice of license violation or worse, a DMCA takedown. Listen to my horror story at 40:30.
The best practice is to buy your own stock photos, then provide them to your graphic or web designer. If you cannot do that, or don’t want to (researching stock photos stinks, we know), then be sure your designer acquires the photo on your behalf, and can furnish some type of documentation, store it in a dedicated folder, with the original filenames in tact, so that if questioned, the two of you can prove this was done properly.
The complete “If I had a nickel” series: