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Brian Cuda: Avoid copyright violations

Posted: July 17, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 17, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Brian Cuda  Brian Cuda 
Brian Cuda 

Over the last few years, I have heard from three different clients receiving cease and desist letters for content on their website.

The infractions were innocent, intentions were good, but the results were thousands of dollars in expenses and fees.

First, let me tell you the one thing you need to remember to lower the chances of problems. This is wisdom from my dad. Ready?

Nothing in life is free.

If you see an image or find some text while doing a Google search that works great for your site, blog post or Facebook page be sure to pay for it first.

Many times the images are located on a stock photo site and all you need to do it pay the license fee to get use of the photo. This use is limited so be sure to read the fine print.

If the image is not on a stock photo site then you will need to find a way to pay the owner somehow. Often times payment doesn’t include money. Most of the time the content owner just wants credit or acknowledgement.

Even if the content is listed with Creative Commons you will need to give credit as instructed and only use in the capacity allowed by that license.

If the content owner gives permission and doesn’t ask for anything in return, be sure to get that in writing (still not free; it takes time).

If you can’t find the owner and are not sure who to pay, don’t use it.

I have explained this to many clients and they feel that their site is “under the radar” or too small to get noticed. That is not a factor in the copyright violation complaints I have seen.

There are attorneys scouring the Web for violations and that is all they do. They are the Internet’s version of “ambulance chasers.” Their goal is to get you to settle quickly and give them a quick payday. Even if you win a case, it may take much time and money to resolve.

All things that distract from your business mission and your bottom line are not worth the risk.

Brian Cuda is founder/owner of Conceptinet in Santa Clarita, a web development company for creative agencies. Brian’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. He can be reached at 661-338-0830 and his firm can be found at



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