co-authored by Eric Fredericksen, esg., Jake Laban MBA
Some of our clients have been vocal about the watermark that is found on a large majority of images we use on their social spaces.
It’s not particularly wonderful feedback we’re getting from them either. They simply do not like the watermark.
Can’t say I blame them.
We’ve been very open about why this watermark is there, and have even published a blog article detailing the reasons why. You won’t see a lot of social media marketers using their licensed images with watermarks. In fact, most social media marketers don’t license the images they use on their clients social spaces at all.
They outright steal them from places across the Internet.
Posting an Image on Your Facebook Page Without Consent of the Photographer is THEFT
We’ve discussed copyright infringement via social media on our blog before, but it’s a consistent issue, particularly in the very visual field of cosmetic surgery marketing. Bloggers are actually being sued for using images that they don’t have permission to publish on their websites; Facebook pages are being shut down without warning because copyright holders are reporting the images. Pinterest users have shut down their own accounts completely for fear of being sued!
When we address these copyright concerns to our clients and others in the field of aesthetic medical marketing via social media, the most common responses we hear are as follows:
“Everyone uses these images online, so it’s acceptable.”
“So many other pages and businesses are doing it, and they haven’t been shut down or sued, so why should I worry?”
“If the copyright holder shows up and complains, I’ll just take it down and apologize. No harm done.”
In reality, there’s plenty of harm done to your reputation, your business assets, and the online spaces you’ve worked so hard to build up and utilize.
All of that can be tarnished with a single complaint of copyright infringement.
What’s worse is that you may not even know that your business is doing this, because you’ve put your faith and trust in a “professional” who isn’t properly licensing images for your business.
One such example is SomeEcards, the popular ironic and sarcastic e-cards that are distributed via email and social media. The problem is that many will upload these images to their Facebook pages, even though it specifically says in their Terms of Service that this is prohibited:
“Someecards User will not use this service to create advertising, promote a product, brand, Web site, social media program, or Facebook fan page. Someecards are for personal use only, and can not be taken off the site. Only the social networking buttons on the site can be used to share the content.”
“Only the social networking buttons on the site can be used to share content.” That means you cannot download the image and then reupload to your Facebook photo album. You have to click the Facebook “share” button, which will share the link to the webpage where the e-card is located. Otherwise, you are violating the intellectual property (I.P.) rights of the owners of SomeEcards. Other large originators of visual online content, notable Getty Images, are aggressively defending their I.P. against this exact type of theft by small business owners. We here at TSS have even had our own I.P. stolen and improperly posted for another company’s commercial benefit; and we too, vigorously defend our I.P.
It would be like Dr. McGillicutty FACS down the street taking your Before & After photos and publishing them on his own Facebook page. Even if there was a small attribution to you on the image, he/she still stole the image and can be held legally liable for copyright infringement.
Copyright Myths Revealed
Myth: If you use an image, but source the owner with an image credit and a link, then it’s not copyright infringement.
Fact: Unless you received permission from the owner of the image, your publication of that image is copyright infringement and is punishable by law.
Myth: If a copyright holder contacts you about an image requesting its immediate removal, as long as you comply, there are no further legal actions.
Fact: The copyright holder can still sue you for thousands of dollars even after you comply with removing the image.
Image Licensing by TSS
While we license our images from a specific online stock image website, those images are licensed to us and not our clients. Because we hold the license, we may publish the images on our clients’ social spaces on their behalf so long as they contain a watermark somewhere on the image. Furthermore, once the client is no longer a client anymore, they must immediately remove all images licensed to Total Social Solutions, or they could be liable for copyright infringement by the original creator of the image.
This is why we have the watermark on our photos, to protect your business from lawsuits and the removal of your communities from social networks like Facebook and Pinterest. We’ve worked hard with you and for you to grow these communities so that they are true assets to your business, and we don’t want legal issues to affect those communities or bring potential lawsuits to your doors.