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You Think These Aren’t Photo Copyright Infringement (But They Are)

Here’s some activities that you think aren’t photo copyright infringement… but they are. These’ll be in the context of social media, websites, and podcasting.

Rapid fire, let’s go!

Photo Copyright Infringement 101: posting a photo that you didn’t take.

Unless you have agreed with the person that DID take the photo that you could, of course. But, in general, posting a photo that you didn’t take without permission from the owner…big no-no. Copyright infringement.

Posting a photo of yourSELF that you didn’t take.

Some people are surprised by this; but, if you and the photographer don’t have an agreement where you can post those photos, you can’t post those photos.

The next part of that is posting a photo of yourself that was taken at a live event. 

Again, did the photographer or the copyright owner say that you could post that photo.

Even if you’re in it, you don’t OWN it. 

Posting photo with the disclaimer “I do not claim any rights to this content.” 

Disclaimer is nice, it doesn’t do anything. So, if you’re posting that content without the permission of the owner? Copyright infringement. Disclaimer or no disclaimer.

Posting a photo of a celebrity rep’ing or wearing your brand.

Again, you’ll see a theme here, but if you don’t own that photograph, you can’t post that photograph.

And, a little tidbit about celebrities or really anyone wearing or rep’ing your brand, there’s something called “right of publicity” where an individual has the right to control how their name, image, and likeness is used in connection with a commercial purpose, a business purpose.

So, aside from just the copyright, there’s that right of publicity aspect. Did the individual in the picture consent to  your using their image in connection with your business?

Posting a podcast guest’s photo or headshot to your website or the show notes…might be photo copyright infringement. Maybe.

This is a reason why it’s a good idea to have a podcast guest contract.

In general, the chain of title or chain of access to that photo is photographer –> your guest on your podcast –> you. So, do you know that the photographer gave the guest all of the rights that THEY need to provide that photo to YOU, for YOU to put that photo online? If the photographer didn’t grant those rights to your guest, your guest is infringing by providing you that photo. And, you’re infringing by posting that photo online. (A good podcast guest contract makes the guest promise he/she has all necessary rights to provide you with content like that, FYI.)

Using something beyond the license or permission that was originally granted.

That might sound a little confusing — let me give you an example.

So, best example is a stock photography website, right? They could have tons of photos that you can use for free… “for free”…but, there’s that fine print, right? If you’re using it in connection with a commercial purpose, then you might have to buy a special license to use it in connection with a commercial purpose.

Using that photo in connection with a commercial purpose without paying that license fee is copyright infringement.

Essentially, the license that they granted to you to use the photo for free only extends to personal use not business use, right? So using it in a business sense without paying the extra license fee or “beyond the scope” of the original license: copyright infringement.

I hope you better understand these examples of what constitutes photo copyright infringement so that you can avoid them!


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