Misconceptions About Copyrights Can Land You In Hot Water.

With millions of images and information easily  accessible on the Internet to copy and distribute, you can quickly run afoul of someone’s copyright.  Individuals, businesses and companies large and small generally misunderstand copyrights and how not to get into trouble when posting someonelse’s work .

Buzzfeed’s recent unauthorized use of a copyrighted image is one example of what not to do.  The popular website recently posted an article about unusual uses for household items.  One of the suggestions was a clever use of juice box tabs as handles so that children would not squeeze juice all over themselves.  The problem was that the image they used in the article belonged to someone else, and Buzzfeed didn’t ask for permission before using the image.  The image was taken from Flickr account, which led to a sharply worded post about the website, which went viral,  and eventually Buzzfeed donating money to a charitable organization for the image.

Buzzfeed has had previous issues with copyright violations, and in one instance they tried to dismiss their use of an image because they believed it to be public domain.  Images or other works in the public domain are not protected by copyright and they can be used freely by anybody in any way they choose.  However, image in question was not in the public domain.

There are clear distinctions as to what constitutes the public domain and copyrighted material.  Many people wrongly believe that because something it is on the Internet, it is in the public domain or free to use.  That is clearly not the case, and can lead to some severe penalties.


How Can I Help?

Copyrights are valuable property so It is important that you are aware of the pitfalls and protections.  If you need help to protect your work from infringement, or defend yourself against a copyright lawsuit, or just need help understanding copyrights, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +


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