As you start to use digital images for business-related work, you need to have an understanding of some potential legal issues. These issues surround IP rights, copyright law, and how that impacts photography. In this video, author Richard Harrington explains what penalties you face when you are caught violating IP rights.
- Now, despite me telling you not to violate copyright, many of you are thinking, well, it's no big deal, I won't get caught, it's not going to be a big deal if I do, I can just apologize. Well, as a professional image creator, let me share with you some of the potential risks you're taking. There are severe penalties for violating intellectual property. Again, these are the penalties for the United States, so penalties around the world may vary slightly. First up, this act has been recently updated.
So The Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement Act of 1999 actually increased the fines for violating copyright. Penalties for copyright infringement can include both civil and criminal fines. This means that potential imprisonment is an option. In most cases, anyone who is found liable for civil copyright infringement can be ordered to pay actual damages or statutory damages.
This means that they don't have to prove that they lost any money. You can simply be punished for violating the law. The minimum charge that you'll face is $750 for a violation and it can be upwards of $30,000 per work infringed. Per work infringed means per image. So, in the course of this presentation, I've easily had more than 100 images. Some of those were mine, many were royalty-free stock images that I properly legally licensed, paying a fee for.
If I did not do this, let's say there was 50 images in here that I didn't clear, I could face 50 fines. It's not a single fine, it's a fine for every copyright violation. Additionally, if you are found to be willful, meaning that you've been contacted by the rights holder and you told them to jump in a lake, that you didn't care, that you did not think that this was their rights, or any big deal, for willful copyright infringement, a court can award an additional $150,000 for the infringement.
And that, again, is per work. A court can also, at its discretion, choose to assess all costs and attorney fees. Now, this is covered for the United States in the codes Section 504 and 505. You may want to look those up if you'd like to explore these terms a bit more. Remember that international laws do vary from country to country. Some countries are stricter on copyright, some have more lax rules.
But you can also face international issues if you violate copyright. If you'd like some more information about copyright law, with a bit of a focus on the United States, the website copyright.gov is an excellent resource and provides many educational opportunities.
- Reviewing essential technological concepts
- Why does file format matter?
- JPG, PNG, and other raster formats
- Converting file formats with Adobe tools and free utilities
- Resizing images
- Matching visual style
- Adjusting the exposure, color, and size of an image
- Making essential image adjustments in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint
- Adjusting images with online image editors
- Adjusting images in a PDF file with Acrobat Pro
- Intellectual property rights