Opinions

The Future of Royalty Free

Posted by Daniel Taibleson on February 27th, 2014 at 11:01 am

Royalty Free

According to Google's 2013 Transparency report, the search engine received nearly 25 million requests to remove content violating various copyrights. Further, reports are popping up across the web of unsuspecting bloggers being sued for upwards of $8,000 for using a copyrighted photo, even after immediately taking it down after a cease and desist letter, according to ContentFac.com. Think you’re playing it safe using royalty free photos, video and other content? You might still be in the wrong. Learn more about how royalty free content is being incorrectly used, its future and how to stay above the law.

Social Media Sharing

Social media sites from Facebook to Pinterest make it all too easy to share photos and other content with a rapid fire click of the mouse. According to RachelleGardener.com, it's illegal to pin images to Pinterest that don't belong to you just as you can't upload an image to your blog or website that aren't yours. The same goes for YouTube. It's simple to upload someone's video to your account and share it with the world. But that doesn't mean it's legal, even if you're giving credit where credit is due.

Is Attribution Enough?

Reusing someone's recipe, vector image, stock video or extensively quoting their blog could constitute a copyright infringement. And just because you give attribution also doesn't mean you're allowed to use their material. Remember that even using part of the image, video or content or adapting an image without explicit permission could result in copyright infringement, as Lifehacker explains. Not sure if you're using copyrighted work at all? Section 106 of the U.S. copyright law prohibits reproducing the work, altering the work, distributing copies to the public, performing the work publicly in case of a play or reading or displaying the work, according to Copyright.gov.

Will You Get Caught?

It's easy to assume the Internet is so vast that using an image for a little known blog or project won't attract attention. But new technology can help copyright owners track down their image with a fingerprint. It may even pinpoint images that have been recreated or modified.

Uploading videos to YouTube using unlicensed royalty free video, images or even music, will result in removal of your videos. YouTube complies with Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and has software to help match duplicate content. But there's more. The affected parties could sue you for infringement resulting in statutory damages up to $150,000 per work or criminal penalties. Google also follows DMCA and other copyright laws and will promptly remove content that's identified as infringement. They can also remove blogs and terminate blogger accounts if necessary.

Future of Royalty Free

Stock photo, video and content companies will continue to thrive as more people enter online ventures and blogging. The demand for royalty free content remains high and at the end of 2013, Shutterstock was the first to achieve 250 million downloads, breaking down to two images sold every second, according to Entrepreneur.com. However, as more people opt to sell their content through third-party companies, the tighter the regulations to protect the work at hand. Sites like Google and YouTube will continue monitoring for copyright infringement and content creators will employ technology to track down their work.

How to Stay Safe

Use photos from the public domain or contact content creators and ask for explicit written permission to republish their work. You can also purchase royalty free images, photographs, videos and other content and read through its license agreement. If you're unsure how you can use the images, contact the royalty free agency that sold it and find out more. Keep detailed records of what you bought, the date, the name of the company or content creator, and a copy of the license for your files.

2 Responses to “The Future of Royalty Free”

  1. Nina Nowakowski says:

    I find it interesting that it is illegal to post images to Pinterest as it is a social bookmarking site solely for the purpose of saving things you want to later reference.

    • Daniel says:

      Hey Nina,

      Great point, I think your comments brings this conversation to life because we are still operating in the wild west when it comes to digital copyright and royalty issues. There are fine lines and gray areas left and right. There are almost zero checks and balances in place aside from the owner of the image reaching out by email to a site who might have published their image without rights.

      Hopefully this article has helped you by providing some tips for staying in the clear, but it's definitely not the end all be all of the Royalty Free conversation. It will be interesting to see how things play out over time.

      And perhaps, just maybe, there is a problem here that needs an entrepreneur to step in and provide a solution :)

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