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I am re-designing a website for a small business. The site was done as a project by a newbie designer and we are not sure where the background images originated. I am certain they were renamed.
Now the business wants to copyright their website, but I don't think the images are theirs although they have been using them for a couple of years.
What do we do??
Your safest bet is to replace all of the images with non-copyright images, or images the organization actually owns. Using images doesn't make them yours. Even a nonprofit can be sued for suing the images of another organization. It *probably* won't happen, but being cautious would ensure you don't get a nasty lawyer letter eventually.
-=-=-=-=-=- Jayne Cravens Author, The LAST Virtual Volunteering Guidebook
I'd tell them to talk to a lawyer. Are you a lawyer in addition to a web designer?
John Haydon Social media and inbound marketing for non-profits.
A copyright is protection so a writer, musician or photographer is
credited as the creative party and no one can profit from their work. By keeping this in mind, you should avoid using images which have copyright. And its the only safe way you have. And yo uhave various options to choose images from. There are many places you can get free images.
"There are many places you can get free images."
Would anyone care to list some of these places to find images that are copyright free?
One I know of and use myself:
Public Domain Resources
Your web site has copyright protection when you create it. I think there is a formal process you can go through, but it is not needed from what I understand.
If the origin of the images on your site worry you, then replace them. Chances are they may have been used improperly, but if anyone notices I would not expect you to get more than a notification and request to remove them. Chances are that if they were "stolen" that many others have done the same thing and that the real owner doesn't really care.
I would do a search in Google for the file names and see if you can find them on another web site. If the normal Google search does not turn anything up, try the Google image search. You can also try using words that describe the image and see what shows up.
Lastly, you can post a disclaimer somewhere on your site that you believe the images are public domain but if any are owned by someone they can contact you and the images will be removed.
http://www.sxc.hu/ is a decent one.
http://www.istockphoto.com/ isn't free but they offer a ton of images for a fairly reasonable fee.
Best to avoid any copyright issues even if you're in doubt about the source of the images.
Consider replacing your current images with others created by the business, or develop original ones from scratch (new photos, logos, etc.), or pick and choose your graphics from the many free stock photo sites. I particularly like the sxu.hu site (mentioned above).
If you know some of the graphics are in fact copyright, you can always try to contact the owner for permission to use them on the site. But this might not even be worth the headache since there's a nice selection of free-to-use options.
Check out the link below:
15 Best Places for Designers to Get Free Stock Photos Online
Yann ToledanoForum Moderator, TechSoup.orgDigital Marketing ConsultantYTConsulting.com@MarketingYann
Thanks for sharing these resources, everyone.
I always use the tried-and-true old Creative Commons image search, but don't always find what I need there.
It will be great to have some other options in the future.
Michael DeLong | Online Community Manager
One as the guy who created the web site. If he was paid you might own them as work done for hire, if he/she created them. Search copyright laws for work for hire.
And before panicking, if the photos were already copyrighted.contact the owner and ask for permission. Many times it will be granted, some times for fee and some times for free. If they say no, do not use them.
I would tread very lightly with the "contact the owner" suggestions. Even accidental usage can constitute copyright infringement. Many companies are not forgiving when it comes to copyright violations regardless of the reason or intentions. Getty is notorious for flinging frivolous lawsuits against anyone that has their images without the correct rights or credit. I would personally opt for finding new images, or obtaining the usage rights without notifying the owner. Best intentions may not work out well in this case.
Good point, jestep, considering the USA is a very litigious-happy country.
I'll add something else to my previous post here:
Even after you've removed copyright images from your site, it's wise to exercise some caution if you decide to contact the owner for permission. This is because search engines like Google keep a copy of your site's web pages in their search results. So even if the actual page no longer contains the copyright material, anyone who clicks Google's "Cached" version of your page will still be able to see the old copyright material on your page.
Bottom line is that if your site contains copyright images and you don't have permission to use them, remove them all. That's the first step. Once removed, I would then wait at least a couple of months or longer before contacting the owner of the images. This gives time for the search engines to re-crawl your web pages and to update their cached pages of your site so that any copyright material can no longer be found in the search results.
I agree that the best (fastest and cheapest) fix is to replace the images with ones you own. Get releases in perpetuity for use for any charitable purpose of the organization. Don't make it "revokable at any time" because you aren't going to be able to accomplish that if there's a print version of a page anywhere. Make it a fun event, take pictures at a staff or client event, for example. If appropriate, have clients or students create the compositions, for example if it is a nutrition program, they can create fresh produce displays and photograph them.
Also, it might not help, but it cannot hurt: put a disclaimer on your site that if any images and so forth on the site are copyrighted or otherwise used without permission, that you are happy to remove them immeidately, please contact __ (use a valid contact)...
Our organization used a designer who naively and improperly used an image that turned out to be copyrighted and very precious to the owners. The initial notifcation indicated that the owners were very offended. We faced the possibility of lots of legal costs and very expensive destruction of grant-funded brochures and educational materials that used the image. The worst part was the blow to our organization's credibility and reputation in the community. The fix? A very humble and apologetic explanation, and offer to remove/destroy everything where we'd used it, and alternatively a request to the family to be allowed to use the image. Fortunately, once the family found out what the program was about, they supported it wholeheartedly, were thrilled to contribute in any way to it, and our staff gained very useful knowledge, and we didn't take any loss except to some bruised egos.
Good rule to follow: If YOU did not create it, or get explicit permission from the creator to use it...DON'T. Note that a copyright symbol, or lack therof, does not mean that an image is (or is not) free to use.
Tim ClaremontSystems AdministratorRochester, NY
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