If you have ever posted someone else’s photo to your company’s blog without checking first to see whether it was ok, chances are you have committed image theft. For some reason many people think that when they find something online it is free for the taking just because it is free for the viewing. Unfortunately this is not the case at all – even amateur photographers have the rights to their photographs, and if those photographs were taken after 1978 those rights last their lifetime plus 70 years. So how can you avoid accidental theft in your business?

Almost 65% of professional photographers have had their work stolen over 200 times, and even 44% of amateur photographers report having their work stolen. Nearly half of people doing the stealing are bloggers and social media users, usually unaware of the rules. But what’s more shocking is that 28% of the time those doing the stealing are a commercial business, and 72% of the time those stolen images are altered for advertising.

In the United States, ALL original work is protected by copyright law. Owners have exclusive rights to reproduce the work, display the work, change the work or base other work on previous work, and most importantly make money off the work. These laws automatically attach upon creation of any work, whether it is published or unpublished, registered or unregistered.

If you need a photograph for your company’s blog or advertising campaign, you would do best to take the photograph yourself. If that is not a possibility, look for something that is in the Public Domain. All work published before 1923 is in the public domain. Work published between 1922 and 1978 is protected for 95 years from the date of first publication. Work created after 1978 is protected for the life of the creator plus 70 years.

Learn more about online image theft from this infographic so your company doesn’t accidentally end up stealing from photographers.

Infographic Source: Berify