Law Office of Jason H. Rosenblum, PLLC

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Can You Spot a Copyrighted Photo? It’s Safer to Assume You Can’t **Attorney Advertising**

Many people mistakenly believe that if an image lacks a copyright symbol (©) or explicit permission notice, it’s free to use on their website, social media, or marketing materials. Unfortunately, this can lead to costly infringement problems. Let’s clear up the myths and ensure your business navigates digital content safely.

The Basics of U.S. Copyright Law

It’s essential to understand these critical points:

  • Automatic Protection: As of 1976, original creative works in fixed formats have copyright protection the moment they exist as a photo, artwork, website text, and even that meme you drafted.
  • Copyright Symbols are Optional: © and registration serve legal notice and aid in pursuing infringement but are not required for an image to be copyrighted.
  • “Free Image” Sites Have Nuances: Many provide a level of protection, but understanding licensing terms, attribution requirements, and commercial use restrictions matters.

Why “Play It Safe” Isn’t Enough

Even well-intentioned individuals face consequences for accidental infringement including:

  • Legal Costs: Copyright holders may still sue, driving up expensive legal bills even if use was unintentional.
  • Brand Tarnish: Using another’s work without permission undermines your credibility and damages your reputation.
  • Missed Profit Opportunities: Investing in your own images or properly obtained stock media boosts brand presence far more than unauthorized usage.

How an IP Attorney Helps You Steer Clear of Legal Snares

At our firm, we provide more than just copyright registration support. Instead, our attorneys assist with:

  • Assessing Existing Uses: Do you already have potentially infringing images on your site? Proactive review avoids unexpected surprises and penalties.
  • Navigating “Fair Use”: We explain if your specific circumstances may apply under this narrow doctrine.
  • Source Content Properly: We’ll guide you through obtaining licenses for stock usage or properly securing permission to use original creative works from artists/photographers.

Let Us Protect Your Creativity & Avoid Risks with Informed Action

The lack of an obvious copyright notice isn’t an invitation for free use. Seek sound legal advice before taking any image from the online vastness. If you have questions, be sure to reach out to us for clarity and support. Simply click here to schedule an initial discovery session online or call (888) 666-0062.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.