Your rights with copyright
SYDNEY, Australia - September 6, 2017
The print industry is based on and thrives from the creation and reproduction of beautiful imagery. Often these images belong to customers, designers, or are downloaded from stock images services. Most of these images carry with them some sort of copyright, so it’s important to understand when it’s appropriate to use them, especially if the items that the images are used on are to be sold.
A question that came up with regularity at our recent Roadshow events was around copyright, especially with images downloaded from the web and those obtained from stock photo services such as iStock Photo, Adobe Stock, Shutterstock etc.
Many images are protected by copyright law but it is not always clearly visible when browsing the web. Some images have watermarks on them to clearly show that the owner does not want their artwork used without permission which requires payment.
It is your responsibility to find out if the images you take are covered under this law. There is no grey area with copyright law so protect yourself, even using iconic terms such as ‘HSV’ or ‘BMW’ on the front of a car image could land you in trouble.
What about stock images?
Those that access a stock image library, pay the download or subscription fee and believe that the payment entitles them to unlimited usage of the image. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Most images accessible from stock image services come with a ‘standard license.’
This entitles the image owner to a certain number/copies of the image (this will vary depending on the stock image service), a certain number (or unlimited) web views and use on social media, mobile advertising or email marketing.
What a standard license doesn’t let you do is use the image on merchandise or products that you intend to sell or profit from. The majority of stock images services can provide you with an ‘enhanced’ or ‘extended’ license if you wish to use the asset on any print or promotional products that you intend to sell – at an additional cost.
It’s just one image, I won’t get caught…right? Wrong!
Images owners don’t need to randomly come across your website or blog to discover that you’re using their work illegally. With tools like Google Images Search and TinEye, anyone can do a ‘reverse image search’ to find where their images are being used.
If you use copyrighted images without permission, you are violating copyright law and the owner of the image can take legal action against you, even if you remove the image. At our recent Roadshow events we were told tales of small print businesses that had received cease and desist letters from large production studios following the reproduction of copyrighted material, so it does happen, and it can happen to you.
My customer did it! Blame them!
The average person in the street probably won’t understand copyright law like we do in print, so you’ll most likely have to tell some of your customers, “No you can’t have that Game of Thrones/Frozen/Walking Dead/St George Dragons image on your shirt/mug/cap etc.”
What’s important to remember is that you as the printer are liable for the copyright infringement as you are the one profiting from the copyrighted image, so whilst you may need to turn away some print jobs, it’s in the interest of protecting yourself and your business from possible legal action should the image owner discover the breach.
The devil is in the detail, so read it...
If a customer brings you an image and you’re unsure that they have permission to use it, simply ask where they got it and/or if they own it. In most cases they’ll be unaware that they are infringing on copyright law and understand.
If you are using images for your own business and intend to sell or profit from the products they are printed on, always take the time to read the fine print in the detail of the copyright license from the site you have downloaded the asset from.
If in doubt, you can always reach out to the stock photo service for clarification on the intended use. Alternatively, the Copyright Council of Australia has a wealth of resources on its website that can help you determine if you are acting within the boundaries of copyright law.
About the Author
Lukas has been with GJS since November 2010 and brings with him over 15 years’ experience driving marketing and PR campaigns, business, and communications strategy for clients both big and small. Lukas is responsible GJS’ marketing strategies and business development activities. In his spare time you can find Lukas shredding some powder on his snowboard, indulging his passion for photography, keeping fit at F45 or enjoying a few glasses of his favourite NZ sauvignon blanc - Te Koko. Lukas’ favourite colour is blue.
GJS is Australia’s premier provider of solutions and services for the textile, promotional products, custom photo gift, sign and display industries. With over 40 years’ experience, GJS supplies everything needed to start and operate a successful printing business including equipment, consumables, training and support. Headquartered in Revesby, NSW, and with additional teams located in Victoria and Queensland, GJS serves customers throughout Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. For more information visit: gjs.co. GJS and the GJS logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of GJS. Other names are trademarks of their respective owners.