Lifting Images and Copyright – The Glass in the Shop Window

The issues surrounding copyright are clear cut. If you didn’t create the art, write the poem or take the photograph you have no rights to use it without the consent of the creator. ©Photograph: John Reidy

For some reason I have been asked a few times recently about the issues surrounding copyright and the re-use and reproduction of photographs, text and pieces of art from one source to another.

Alarmingly for artists and creators of various kinds of work, the nature of the queries all fall into the category of being able to ‘lift’ images from one source and use them on another without having to pay for them.

Simple Rule of Thumb

There is a simple rule of thumb laid down governing all of this – even in the modern age of instant transmission of date from site of capture to news page or device screen.

If you post a photograph or a piece of artwork or a body of text to your Facebook page or print it in a newspaper and, if you didn’t take that photograph yourself, you are violating the copyright of the person who created it.

“You can not post content or take any action on Facebook that infringes or violates someone else’s copyright or break the law.

Automatic Copyright Protection

Anyone who writes a poem or creates a piece of art or takes a photograph and publishes it – that person owns the copyright to that piece of work – no matter how insignificant it is or may seem and even if it isn’t stamped with the signature or logo of that person.

The act and fact of creation of that piece of work automatically attracts copyright protection – and it applies for 70 years after the death of the creator of the work.

Facebook states that it can remove any content or information we post on its platform if it believes that our posts violate its standards or infringes the copyright of users of its pages.

Disable Your Account

“If you repeatedly infringe other people’s intellectual property rights, we will disable your account where appropriate,” according to Facebook.

“While a copyright holder may not sue over one piece of artwork or photograph uploaded to your account, they do have a right to defend their right, up to and including taking you to court and seeking financial damages.”

The Glass in the Shop Window

For artists and creators the entitlement to copyright is the glass in the shop window.

That’s why we see big companies and struggling artists taking their infringement cases to court and arbitration, respectively.

The rights extend to business owners, beekeepers shopkeepers, butchers, bakers and candle-stick makers and anyone who puts her or his creative stamp on a item or product.

Copyright laws are only as good as those who apply and enforce them. Most rights confrontations can be easily avoided between parties by a simple process of agreement and consultation prior to any proposed use of material.

Otherwise, write your own poetry, paint your own pictures and go out and take your own photographs and the glass will appear automatically around your creations.