Blogs are popping up everywhere online. Whether you own a company and want to keep your customers updated on your latest products or you're just blogging for fun, blogging is a great way to connect with others.
However, blogging isn't without risks. Knowing how copyright laws work can spare you embarrassment and save you money. When you post pictures and content online that is not your own work, you may be committing a criminal offense without even realizing it.
The high cost of stealing online content
If you are convicted of copyright infringement, Fines can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. You may be responsible for all court costs in addition to the fine. Some cases could even land you in jail.
Innocence doesn't matter
You may be shocked if you receive a notification stating you have stolen the content created by someone else. Many people are not aware that the content they are using is protected by copyright law. Your lack of knowledge may not be enough to earn you any favors when it comes to dealing with stolen web content.
Chances are, if you use content that doesn't belong to you, sooner or later you will get caught. Some people who copyright their photos and content use special programs to search the internet and locate their work. Even if you take down the picture, as soon as you receive a notice, you can still be fined.
Know the law before you post
If you're serious about being a blogger, taking the time to learn what you can share and what you can't could keep you out of jail. Don't assume you can post a photo or content just because you read what's legal and what's not on someone else's blog. Get the facts about copyright law from the copyright law website.
Suing is not just for professionals
Using a photo taken by a high school kid with a cheap camera, instead of a professional photographer, makes no difference. Copyright is copyright, whether the work was done by an amateur or a highly recognized professional. You are not exempt from a lawsuit or fine just because the picture or written piece wasn't professionally done.
How to protect yourself
The easiest way to never have to worry about copyright infringement is to use your own content. Using your own photos and content may take a little more time, but it's a surefire way to avoid receiving the dreaded notice that you are being fined.
The next best thing is to know copyright law and to make sure you receive documented permission if you choose to use the work of others.
What to do if you receive a notice
If you receive a notice to remove content from your site, you should do so immediately. Contact the individual and offer an apology. If you're lucky, this will work. If not, you will need an attorney to represent you. A criminal defense attorney may be able to get the amount of the fine lowered and keep you out of jail.
Avoiding copyright infringement is easy. Never assume anything online is free to use on your blog. Know the law. Better yet, use your own content. Blogging is a great way to connect with your followers if you post wisely.