10 Tips How a Web Site Owner Can Avoid Copyright Infringement

  1. Above all, get quality legal advice from your Intellectual Property Law Attorney any time you are thinking of using any photographs or other graphic materials.
  2. Ask yourself whether you really need any photos on your Web site. Can you use hand-drawn illustrations or drawings? Can you use diagrams or graphs you make yourself? Can you use cartoons which you create yourself? Can you take photos, yourself?
  3. Instead of looking for the exactly perfect photo for the Web site / page you have designed, look at the photos that you know you have rights to, and find a way to make those photos work in your Web site design. This may mean some additional thinking regarding page or Web site design, instead of focusing only on photo selection.
  4. If you hire a web designer, insist on using a well-written contract between you and the web designer. Get your Intellectual Property Attorney involved early. Such a contract requires the web designer to defend you, and to indemnify you, against any allegations of copyright infringement, misuse, and provides other protections that will limit the possibility that the web designer can misuse copyrighted material.
  5. Hire your own photographer. Get your Intellectual Property Attorney involved early, before the photographer takes any photos for you, to make sure you have the right to use the photos which are taken for you. You cannot assume that just because you paid for the photographs, you can use them as you please.
  6. Hire your own photo editors to do any editing, again under suitable contracts.
  7. Get public domain images from government Web sites. Make sure you follow ownership rules carefully, as some government Web sites have very specific rules about how the photos can be used.
  8. Maintain tight control on the procedures and assets your Web site designer is allowed to use. Never, never allow them to use, in building your Web site, any assets, products, or services received from outside the US. Many countries don’t strictly enforce copyright like in the US, so any work done outside the US is done in a much different legal environment which does not even recognize the risk to a US user. Too often, they “just don’t get it”.
  9. Don’t assume that, just because you can download an image from the internet without someone asking for payment, there is no copyright cost involved
  10. Finally, if you are the person responsible for the money, you need to personally double check ownership of all images before they are posted to your Web site.

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