How to Protect Your Content & Use Images the RIGHT Way

Are you worried about protecting your blog content?  

Register your posts!  

You may know that as soon as you hit PUBLISH on your blog post, it’s your copyright, you own it - it’s YOUR intellectual property (that is, anything you create in that pretty little head of yours and put out into the world in a FIXED form)

But did you know that in order to really protect it from infringers there is ONE more step you can take?  

Register it!

A registered copyright is a protection provided by the U.S. government (and many other governments) for an ‘original’ tangible work. In the case of most online entrepreneurs this will include things like articles, online courses, blog posts, pictures, or ebooks.

Registering your blog content with the United States Copyright Office has several advantages.  It formally establishes a public record and it is required prior to bringing an action for infringement (meaning, you usually cannot sue for copyright infringement unless you have first registered your work with the Copyright Office).

What this means:  If someone steals your content and you haven’t registered with the government, you have no right to legal action against them. The only thing you can do is send an email, a Cease & Desist letter and/or contact the web host to let them know what’s up with a DCMA takedown notice (while these steps often will work, not all the time).

Registration includes submitting an application, non-refundable filing fee ($35), and a copy of the work to be protected. What’s great is you can batch - so basically you could send in 50 blog posts at once and have that extra layer of protection for your stuff!

Has this happened to you? If you need a Cease & Desist letter in your toolbox - grab one here

Now… what about images??

I see questions on how to legally use other images All. The. Time.

I also see people committing copyright infringement ALL. THE. TIME.  

Even just this week I got an email from a super visible (multi-seven figure) coach who included an image in her newsletter from a Instagram woman that I follow - without any attribution at all.  Now, yes, there is a chance she reached out to this woman and asked for permission, but in all likelihood had this happened, there would have been attribution as most people wouldn’t be like - sure, use my photo, but don’t give me credit.

(Note - it has become accepted practice to repost other people’s images on Instagram and give them credit - but you can’t take their images OFF of Instagram for use elsewhere without permission, even if you give them credit). 

Here’s how to keep your blog legit:

1. Ask permission!  Just linking to someone else’s picture and giving them credit isn’t necessarily going to protect you and is considered infringement. Now, the online space is such that plenty of people appreciate you linking to their image, giving them credit, etc. but you must understand that they also have the right to come at you if they want.  Note - plenty of bloggers may be fine with you reposting, linking, etc. just check their Terms of Service so you know!

2. Use stock photos - there are plenty of sites out there now that offer free (or purchased) photos that are for public use (eg, Pexels, Canva to name a few)

3. Use licensed images - there are sites that license images (eg, Creative Commons) and give you the right to use, but make sure you understand your license, how/if you need to attribute it, how long it lasts, etc. 

Also be aware, if you have a web designer creating your site, YOU are still responsible for making sure your images are legit and you will be the one held legally responsible if you are found to be infringing.

What can happen?  If you take and use someone’s image that has been registered with the US government, you may have to pay anywhere from $200-150K in statutory damages.  Note this happens almost automatically, meaning the owner doesn’t even have to prove he/she was damaged by your use of their content, just that you used it. The range of $200-150K depends on willful infringement vs unknowing infringement.  Trust me, you don’t want to end up in this position in the first place.  

Are you wondering about getting all of your legal ducks in a row? Schedule a call with me HERE and figure out what you need!  

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