Posts Tagged "copyright"

Finding Photos and Music for Your Website

Visual Appeal Without Heavy Fines

Let’s imagine for a moment that your web space is dedicated to attracting customers to your cozy bed-and-breakfast, nestled in the north woods. You want a beautiful photo for your landing page which conveys the beauty of the area, so you hop on over to Google Images and type in ‘pine forest.’

Gorgeous! You spot the shot you want—only to find that it’s actually a copyrighted image, being sold on Etsy by a small business owner just like yourself. Sigh.

Using that image could land you in a great deal of trouble over copyright infringement—so don’t even think about it. Instead, use one of the legal methods for obtaining great photos. You’ll end up with some great visuals for your web space, and you won’t end up having nightmares about impending court cases.

Your first and most obvious option is to take your own photographs. This isn’t as far-fetched as it may sound—chances are good that your phone, coupled with a free photo-editing software package—can turn out photos which rival any you’ll find online. Try it out and see what you can come up with.

Another option is royalty-free photography. These are photographs which can be purchased for a one-time fee, without having to pay royalties to the photographer. You may be required to cite the source of the photo. In some cases, photos are free to use without citing—in non-profit scenarios. Read the fine print very carefully.

Public domain photos are your safest bet, aside from photos you take yourself. These photos are in the public domain, which generally means that they can be used by anybody, anytime, for any purpose—including commercial use. As always, read the fine print. If your web space happens to have an old-timey feel to it, you may just have hit the jackpot, as vintage and retro photos and graphics are the most plentiful type of public domain images.

Finding Music

While free music is a bit tougher to secure than free images, it can still be done. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that by re-mixing a popular song, you’ve created your very own original piece. Instead, seek out actual artists.

Your easiest option is to visit a stock music site. Sites such as AudioJungle feature loads of low-cost stock music which won’t get you tangled up in copyright law.

Another option is to search YouTube. There are tons of artists out there, placing their music online with the hope that somebody will discover it, enjoy it, and want to use or purchase it. Many of these artists will be happy to either sell you the rights to feature their work, or barter for their music via gift cards, discounts or even profit-sharing opportunities.

Stock Photos

Stock images are popular choice of many large websites, although they don’t always make sense for small business owners and bloggers. Stock images are images owned by a company—Shutterstock is perhaps the most well-known—and then purchased by individuals or companies for use in their web and print advertising. These images are of the highest quality, making them very attractive—but they come at a price.

If you simply can’t find—or take—a shot which captures the essence of your web space, stock photos aren’t a bad idea. Simply keep cost in mind, and only purchase those shots which you’ve already tried, and failed, to obtain at a lower cost. If you purchase pictures, you may need to cut costs in other areas. For professional appearance on a budget, check out our best low-cost packages and get started today!


Web Space Copyright

Copyright law can be complicated. It’s a byzantine, incomprehensible mess that could easily be interpreted to categorize singing in the shower as a criminal act.

What’s worse is this: If you’re paying a decent amount for your web space and you’ve put many, many hours into creating the content hosted on it, you have a lot to lose. Under laws like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, your entire site can be taken down for one infringement, at least until such time as you correct it. A DMCA notice can force your web host to suspend service if they want to avoid legal liability—even if you’re not infringing in the eyes of the law, the suspicion is enough to hurt you

So, you want to avoid any possible accusations of copyright infringement. And the way to do that is simple enough: play it safe. Don’t use content which isn’t either created by you, specifically licensed to you, or in the public domain. Fair use exists; it’s entirely possible for you to make non-infringing use of copyrighted content. But once a content holder decides to send a takedown notice, you’re going to need to put a lot of time and work into defending your use of the content, even if you’re right. It’s not worth it; unless you absolutely must, don’t use it.

Copyright isn’t just a stumbling stone for you, though. It’s also something you can use to secure your own interests. You have de facto copyright to anything you create, and that gives you a lot of power. If your content is stolen by another site, you can file a takedown notice to deal with that. De facto copyright is difficult to prove ownership of, though; there are steps you can take to make this more effective.

Filing for formal copyright is chief among these. Formal registration creates a public record declaring you the creator of your website. It also lets you file infringement suits in court, if necessary. This is simple enough; fill out a form with your country’s copyright office and pay the small clerical fee. Many countries even provide for online copyright filing.

Copyright is a big factor in the content on your web space; however, it’s important for you to realize that copyright does not apply to domain names. A domain name belongs to the first entity to pay for it, period. Even if it’s a name associated with your business, there’s nothing much that you can do using the toolset of copyright.

There is one option available to you, and that’s going after a domain that infringes one of your trademarks. If you’ve registered a trademark, you have some limited options: if the owner of a domain name is using that name to impersonate you and profit from your consumer base, or if they’re simply sitting on it so that they can sell it to you at an inflated price, you have the ability to take action. You want to look into arbitration under ICANN’s Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy. If the holder of the name is acting in bad faith, and you hold a relevant trademark, you can force them to stop using the name. This is limited, though; you can’t do anything without a trademark, and you can’t do anything to another entity that has a good-faith claim to the name.