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Be Original a.k.a. Copyright Infringement Myths Debunked

Have you been pulling images off Google Image search for use on your website? Did you know many of them are copyrighted?

Do you know what Fair Use really means even in a university setting?

Did you know you could be sued for copyright infringement without even getting a warning letter to remove the materials said to be copyrighted? Even if you don’t make money off of it? Even if you put a disclaimer on the content?

There are some chilling stories across the Internet, including this recent one from Kari DePhillips about a poor quality image that a blog writer found on Google Image search that they used on a blog post that didn’t even get a lot of views. That infringement cost them a very pretty penny.

Have you ever noticed how advertisements appear on YouTube videos? Sometimes they even show the reason why. Below the video is typically a reference to copyrighted music and the artist who performed it which just so happens to be playing on the video you are watching. That means YouTube figured out the account owner submitted a video using an artist’s work.

If you are that YouTube account owner, you will receive a notice that they “matched third party content” to your video which will include the recording label company your video infringed upon. When they do that, an advertisement appears on your video based on your account profile. Yes, they use you against you. Since you work for a university, they pull up advertisements they have for universities, any university will do. That means you have turned a video that was supposed to promote Tarleton State University into a video that promotes [Name that Online University].

It’s the ultimate revenge: you are taking sales away from the artist, so YouTube is taking potential students away from your university. Considering the cost of a music album compared to the cost of tuition and fees we could receive from that potential student, I’d say we take the bigger loss. Add the potential to be sued for copyright infringement, and you don’t really want to speculate on how much that will cost.

The point is if you think no one is looking, think again. More importantly, check the copyright on all content you intend to use for your website, even if it came from a blog site.

If that sounds too hard to pull off, I have a very simple solution for you: Be Original.

Web Services will be happy to assist you in producing original content. For example, we are happy to take photos of your programs that help you promote the amazing, innovative activities your area does on your website. Simply contact us about your ideas, describe the needs (i.e., where the photo shoot would take place), and we will schedule a photographer to come take those photos for your program.

Any content we can’t help you produce, we’ll direct you to someone who can, such as our manager of video services for video promotions.

If you ever have any concerns, please let us know. We want to put your best foot forward, and it looks better when it is actually your foot!

University Libraries also has an amazing amount of information about fair use and copyrights, and they can assist you in determining copyright infringement.

If you have any other questions, feel free to contact Web Services.