Article: “Avoiding Liability for the Use of Images on the Web”

When I meet new people and am asked what I do, I typically respond with an anecdote or two. One I regularly use describes how I helped resolve a complaint that an image was used in a website without permission. “That happened to me once!” is something I’ve heard many times in response.

I always ask for the details. And while there is some variation, I tend to hear the same tale: the image was found somewhere on the Web, saved, and casually inserted into the person’s own website. In explanation, sometimes I hear, “I thought that was allowed; it’s free, right?” Other times the person swears the image was legitimately downloaded from a “royalty-free” site. And then every so often, I get a shoulder shrug: “I dunno.” The price to get things “square” with the image owner varies, but often exceeds $1,000.00 for a short-lived use. Ouch.

The purpose here is two-fold: First, this article will attempt to dispel the myth that images on the Web are free. Second, it will provide a few common sense suggestions to help reduce the chance of walking into an unexpected bill for infringing another’s copyright… (Read the complete article)

Andrew Nelson is a shareholder at Friedman Stroffe & Gerard, P.C. in Irvine, California. His practice emphasizes cost-effective resolution of disputes. Contact him at anelson@fsglawyers.com or 949.265.1110.