The internet has had a reputation for sharing every kind of media for twenty years. Cyberspace has been like the Wild West, with no law to speak of and people taking, using and distributing media without thought or regard for the owners of the copyright being used. Things are changing and changing fast. People are not simply being threatened, but are being taken to court and successfully sued for breaches of copyright. A good friend of mine recently came up with the perfect definition for copyright ownership, if you don’t own the copyright to something, someone else does. This might sound simplistic and if it does, good, because it is.
Having things we own taken and used without our consent is theft. There really is no common ground here and we all need to be very careful about any and all content we use. Just because you have been using a certain image for years and nothing has been said about it, does not mean you have been granted permission. Bloggers have no legal right to use other people’s work and can and are being successfully prosecuted. Facebook and other social media sites are not outside of the law either. Even Twitter can be a dangerous place, if you happen to tweet an image that doesn’t belong to you. However, don’t despair for there are a few simple things you can do to make your online postings not only copyright safe, but also far more original, reflecting your own unique brand.
Free photographs. Join websites which offer free images, such as www.freedigitalphotos.net who allow you to use their images as long as you credit them. If you are good at photography, why not begin looking at your own images , not as family snaps, but as your own stock photo library. Do be careful with any photo showing other people, as to use these you do need a model release, giving you permission. All those nature scenes and cityscapes can be perfect for your online jotting and reflect your tastes.
Look carefully at any headers you use for blogs, Twitter, Facebook or your own websites. If you are using a banner image made from found pictures, scrap it. Make your own banners in graphics programs such as Paintshop Pro or Photoshop. If this is beyond you, look around at your friends on and offline. Most of us know someone who can work with images and graphics. Any online collections you have made using found images, delete. With videos and audios it couldn’t be any simpler. Don’t use unless they belong to you or you have written permission to use them. Be proud to be your own copyright owner. Get creative and be legal. If you don’t the next court case could involve you and could seriously cost you thousands. Don’t be the other guy that these things always happen to.