Myth 7: No one cares if I use this picture

Camera - No one cares if I use this picture - copyrightYou're looking for the perfect picture to use with your email or blog, and suddenly you stumble upon it. You use it without thinking, assuming that if it's online, it's up for grabs. Plus, what are the odds that anyone, especially the copyright holder, will notice? The internet is a big place. But that thinking could have you on the receiving end of a cease and desist letter or some stiff fines.

It is that ignorance, often willful, that is often the cause of numerous copyright violations. Using images found online without understanding licensing is one of the most common and easily preventable startup mistakes. With careful research, you can find any number of artists and other creative types who offer up their work for use free of charge, and many more willing to license theirs for a relatively small fee.  Make sure that you read the license for any music, videos, or photos that you plan to use to understand what you can and can’t do.

It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the onus is on the copyright holder to prevent others from using their material, and that if something isn't clearly marked as being protected by copyright, it must be free to use. We've all probably been guilty of infractions to some degree, though not with malicious intent. Most people are vaguely aware of what copyright is but likely coundn't tell you exactly how they might have violated it. The truth is that it is incumbent upon us in the general public to be mindful of not using someone else's copyrighted material, just as we wouldn't want anyone else to misuse our own. Not only do artists and designers have software that can track down infringement, 

If your company is looking to use someone else's work for any purposes, take the time to read the licensing agreement to avoid the long term headaches of cease and desist letters and fines that come with copyright infringement.

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