My understanding of copyright infringement is this:
Using any copyright image without the expressed consent of the copyright holder is illegal.
Copyright is a well-known type of intellectual property (IP) protection represented by the © symbol. Watch any film and the copyright infringement warning will appear, threatening jail time and fines. Copyright extends beyond video to songs, pictures, books, blogs, podcasts, paintings, and even software. For those who are both consumers and business owners, it’s important to know how to avoid copyright infringement.
If you're using a copyright image for your own private use, it is technically illegal, but extremely difficult to enforce as authorities will have to invade your privacy to know that you're doing something illegal. Private use here means that it's not available to the public (so nothing on your website, etc).
Copyright laws are designed to protect the creator of original works, which are creative expressions from others using and profiting their work, without permission. The idea is that the author or creator owns the rights to the work and can decide if and how others use his or her creation.
If you're using it for commercial reasons where you stand to make financial gain from it, then it is easier to enforce since it's public and the copyright holders will have every incentive to sue you. After all, you're making money from their work.
Copyright v. Plagiarism
Plagiarism is the act of using another's work and passing it off as your own. While such use could open you up to a copyright infringement claim, there is no legal liability associated with the act of plagiarism.
Nevertheless, it is a good idea to avoid plagiarism. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to adequately cite your work. Depending on the nature of your online work, your citations can be informal in style, or adhere to the more formal citation conventions. See the University of Iowa's Guide to Citation Style Guides, and Yale College's guide to citing blogs for more information.
Since plagiarism and copyright infringement are similar concepts, a few examples may be helpful:
- If an author publishes a poem on his blog in which he substantially copies from Dante's Inferno but passes off the words as his own, he has committed plagiarism. However, the author has not committed copyright infringement because Dante's work is in the public domain.
- In contrast, if a website owner publishes a compilation of contemporary short stories on her website without the permission of the original authors, she would be liable for copyright infringement, even if the compilation properly notes the original authors and thus avoids plagiarism.
- Finally, if a journalist uses content from yesterday's daily newspaper as his own original article in a weekly online magazine, the journalist has committed both plagiarism and copyright infringement
There are loopholes to this though and that is if the image is seen to be "transformative" or as a parody/satire of the original work. In other words, if the image is used for "artistic reasons". Problem is that art is often very subjective and the courts will have to decide whether or not the new work qualifies as "art" and not as some direct attempt to use someone else's creative work for your own financial gain.
This is usually the problems with this kind of cases, where one party argues it on artistic merits and the other party argues it on a commercial basis.
Ultimately, it depends on how recognizable the copyrighted image is and how you are using it. If the copyright image is beyond recognition, then the copyright holder will have a very difficult time proving that you're benefitting from their work. If the copyright image is used purely for artistic reasons, then the copyright holder will have to prove that you're using it for purely commercial purposes and that your work doesn't have any artistic value.
Keywebco uses a few apps that are images are safe to use:
The owner of a copyright may file an infringement lawsuit in federal court. If the court deems that an infringement has occurred, the plaintiff may be awarded monetary damages of up to $10,000 on top of attorney’s fees, and/or court costs. A willful copyright infringer can face a punishment of up to $10,000 and up to one-year imprisonment because it will be considered a federal misdemeanor.
The court may also grant the prevailing plaintiff a preliminary or permanent injunction to have the defendant stop using or producing and infringing the copyrighted material. A preliminary injunction can be granted early to prevent copying during the lawsuit, and if the court finds that there has been infringement, the preliminary injunction can turn into a permanent one.
LegalZoom can help you register a copyright for your works.
eBay’s VeRO program
To understand the VeRO program, it is important to first clarify the meaning of intellectual property.
Intellectual property – patents, copyright, and trademarks
Intellectual property is the ownership of ideas. Intellectual property can be protected by law in the form of patents, copyright, and trademarks. These three methods allow owners to gain recognition and financial benefit from their idea. Examples of intellectual infringement include:
- Reproducing and distributing copyrighted book or film without permission
- Creating a slogan or logo that looks very similar to an existing, very popular trademarked one
- Copying patented technology to develop and sell a new product
eBay sellers should be aware of potential infringements. Here are some examples:
Selling counterfeits, fakes or replicas of brand name products
Items that show the logo or label of a company but are not manufactured by that company are considered counterfeits. These are also illegal.
Example of listing violation: A sweatshirt with an Adidas logo that was not made by Adidas.
Misusing brand names
Brand names cannot be used in a listing unless the item is manufactured by that brand name
Example of listing violation: A pair of leggings described as ‘just like Lululemon,’ but not made by Lululemon.
It is against copyright laws to sell copied, pirated or bootlegged movies, music, and software.
Example of listing violation: A burned DVD featuring a pirated movie.
Item description and image
Using a copied description or stock images is against copyright rules unless permission is granted to use them.
Example of listing violation: A copied and pasted description from the manufacturer’s website.
Some items are not allowed to be sold outside their country of origin.
Example of listing violation: A video game that was intended for sale in Japan only.
The eBay Seller Center offers more examples, including some region-specific variations of intellectual property infringements.
Avoiding a VeRO violation is fairly easy for sellers following good eBay practices. Here are some quick tips:
- Always create original listing descriptions with accurate information and details about the item
- Remember that using factual information from the manufacturer (such as weight and dimensions) is OK
- Take photos of each item, avoiding stock images
- Do not create and sell unauthorized copies of movies or other media
- Don’t mislead buyers – avoid comparisons and only use brand names when selling an item made by that brand
- Include a photo of the original receipt, with personal information removed, in listings that feature commonly counterfeited items (e.g. purses)
- Double check items are real before selling them on eBay
- Ask questions – if in doubt about an item, contact the manufacturer via eBay’s VeRO Participant Profiles
eBay SUSPENSIONS, Don't let it happen to you. VERO & Trademark Violations
The below infographic is from HubSpot.com
I wrote to them and asked to use it. They replied with a code to embed it in my blog and gave permission.
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