Are you breaking the law and don’t even know it?

Posted & filed under Office, Video.

Your employees regularly search the Internet and come up with great stuff. But for the sake of your company, be sure that they are complying with copyrights. If you don’t have a license or permission to use documents, don’t send, make copies or post them to your site – that goes for internal distribution and Intranet sites, as well. Check out or

When gleaning information from the Web or printed materials, you should know that it’s no longer necessary to have a © notice, or even register your copyright. Protections for originality and creativity are now a given in the eyes of the U.S. Copyright Office, which investigates and levies hefty fines for copyright infringement.

Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as newspaper or magazine articles, poetry, novels, photos, movies, songs, computer software and architecture.

It’s OK to send clients or colleagues a link to a site, but not the actual article. It’s illegal to provide electronic or printed stories without the consent of the media outlet that produced the story. Even if you credit a publisher and author, it is considered a copyright infringement. Why? Publishers want people to visit their websites as much as you want people to visit yours; increased site traffic drives revenue.

What about photographs? A person who takes a photo automatically has copyright protection, so be sure to get permission before using or publishing images. You also need releases from people in photographs if they will be used for advertisements or publicity purposes.

What’s considered public domain? First, anything not protected by copyright. That includes YouTube, which is a public domain (remember that when you post videos).

What’s the penalty for violating copyright law? A court can award both actual damages and statutory damages from $750 to $150,000 per infringed work – copy five newspaper articles to your site without permission and you could be looking at $3,750 to $750,000 in fines.

How can you avoid infringement at your place of work?

•Adopt copyright policies

•Educate your staff and encourage strong management oversight

•Keep a record of copyright permissions and license agreements

•Seek legal guidance, if necessary

It’s important to note that copyright law does not require the person committing the violation, or responsible for the violation, be aware that their actions are in violation of law. Ignorance of the law – or even lack of intent – does not excuse the violation and is not a defense in a copyright infringement lawsuit.

So, before you hit “copy” or “print,” be sure to get permission.

We’re here to help. At CAWOOD, we request and record copyright permissions for several clients. When questions arise, give us a call: 541-484-7052.

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