When Google reports “labeled for reuse with modification”
Google is only reporting how the image is labeled. It doesn’t actually verify that “labeled for reuse with modification” is actually correct. If not, the person at risk for copyright infringement is you – not Google.
Google writes here:
Note: Before reusing content, make sure that its license is legitimate and check the exact terms of reuse. For example, the license might require that you give credit to the image creator when you use the image. Google can’t tell if the license label is legitimate, so we don’t know if the content is lawfully licensed.
A story from the front lines
A client of ours, an active blogger, posted an image that she thought was public domain. A very cute photograph of mother and baby.
About four months later, the client received a registered letter from an attorney’s office. The letter politely informed the client that her use of the image constituted copyright infringement. Of course, she would need to take it down. But, taking it down was not enough. She would have to pay a fee of $2,400. Two thousand and four hundred dollars for a picture that wasn’t really that great and could have been licensed from the copyright holder for under $15.
For lawyers, getting settlements from copyright infringers for the owners is very profitable. Lawyers are not interested in a sincere apology. They want a payment and, of course, their percentage from that payment. This is how they make their living, by finding and charging people like you who aren’t careful when using pictures on your website.
In the end, the client was able to settle for $1,600. After a lot of grief and pain, she learned that copyright infringement can cost you, and it can cost you big bucks.
Why didn’t she just take the picture down?
Did you have the impression that before you were liable, the copyright owner had to inform you and ask you to remove the copyrighted image? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Once the image is posted, you are liable. Using pictures from the web can be a very big expense that you just don’t need.
Does “Fair Use” protect me when using pictures from the web?
The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter if you were mistaken. You are financially liable for posting copyrighted images. Even if you took the image from a site that said the image was public domain, you are liable if the image has copyright protection. Imagine a case where somebody posts a copyrighted picture on Wikimedia Commons. If you use that picture, you are liable.
Even if you made an honest mistake, or resized the picture, or have a disclaimer on your site, or credit the actual photographer, or even if your site is “non-commercial” — you are liable. “Fair use” or “fair dealing” can provide some protection, but if you are not sure, don’t take a chance.
A few unfortunate facts to be aware of
The bottom line is that people like you and me who create or edit content on the web do not lobby for copyright infringement laws. But Getty Images and the other big image banks do. The result is that in the overwhelming majority of cases, you are liable.
- Image banks have software robots that look for unlicensed use of their images.
- The image banks use law firms that are totally focused on getting cash settlements for their clients.
- The law firm or image bank does not have to provide you advance notice.
- Removing the image does not eliminate your liability.
- Sincerely apologizing does not mean that you don’t have to pay.
- Even if your page is not very popular, you still have to pay.
When using pictures from the web, proceed with caution and follow the procedures recommended by TherapyEverywhere.
Will the usage rights filter on Google Advanced Image Search protect me?
Sorry. But, even the usage rights filter on Google Advanced Image Search will not protect you from liability of copyright infringement. Here is what Google says about this
…Google has no way of knowing whether the license is legitimate, so we aren’t making any representation that the content is actually or lawfully licensed.
Read the whole post from Google here and get more informed about using pictures from the web.
What can I do to use images without incurring liability?
At TherapyEverywhere, we only use licensed images with no expiry date on the license (so that we don’t have to worry about an image staying up past the date). We make sure that images are licensed for use on our client sites. On occasion, we use content from Wikimedia Commons – but we have set up a series of safeguards and procedures to make sure that we use only genuinely public domain images. Do you need more help with your site? Do you want your site to look good and at the same time remain free from copyright infringement? Call us today, or just fill out the contact form and click Send. We’ll be glad to help.
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