Just because it is posted on the internet does not mean that it is free for people to use. In the internet age, an immense amount of information, articles, photographs, videos, etc. are available at our fingertips. It can be very tempting to copy an image from one site and use it on your own site. However, such actions may open you up to liability for copyright infringement.
Copyright law protects any original work of authorship, fixed in a tangible medium of expression. That means that if someone creates an article, blog post, graphic, etc. and posts it on an internet site it has now been “fixed in a tangible medium of expression” and is protected by copyright law.
The protections afforded under copyright law prevent the unauthorized copying or use of the protected work. By taking an image / article and copying it onto your own site without the permission of the copyright holder, you have likely violated copyright law and could be liable to the original author of the work.
It is important to note that it is not enough to simple “give credit” to the original author when using the work. In other words, if you copy and paste someone’s blog post and place it on your website you do not avoid liability by listing the original author’s name. You must actually get the appropriate permission from the original author before using the work.
Another fallacy that people believe is that something must have the copyright symbol “©” in order to be protected. That is false. While placing that symbol on the work puts people on notice that the work has officially been registered with the copyright office, it is not necessary for protection. Likely a large majority of works protected by copyright do not contain the symbol.
If you have questions about using potentially copyrighted content or if you believe that someone else has inappropriately used content you created, contact the experienced trial attorneys at Goosmann Law Firm, PLC, in our Omaha, Sioux City, or Sioux Falls offices.