Taboo Tuesday: 6 Copyright DON’Ts

1 DON’T share your fonts with others. Fonts are not shareware and by purchasing or downloading a font you agree to their respective licensing agreements. This includes not posting a font to newsgroups, on a FTP sites, or copying to CD/DVD for distribution purposes. The one exception to this rule is in the event that you provide a service printer with the collected files for a job that you are having printed. Design programs run a job collect action on a file and this includes collecting all fonts used in the document. The printer needs these fonts in order to print the job. When the program runs the collect action it will warn the user of restrictions and to comply with copyright law as well as the terms under the agreement. Here is an example of what that warning looks like.

2 DON’T relinquish stock images to a client unless they were purchased on their behalf. Much like a font, stock images are not shareware. By purchasing a stock image you have agreed to the licensing agreements for that image and that agreement is between you and the stock house. If the client wants to own the image for their use, they must either purchase it themselves or you may do so on their behalf.

3 DON’T assume that a stock image is royalty free. When purchasing an image from an online stock house, be sure to read ALL the information on the image’s page. That image may be rights managed. This means you have to acquire a licensing agreement in addition to paying a determined fee. How much that fee will be is all dependant on: usage, placement, image size, print run, duration, website usage, electronic distribution, location and industry. It is your responsibility to be accurate when supplying all this information. Failure to do so, may lead to serious legal and/or financial consequences. Here is an example of what a fee calculator form looks like. This one is from the online stock house, www.veer.com.

4 DON’T try and pull an “American Apparel”. The clothing company was caught using an unauthorized image of famed filmmaker Woody Allen from a scene in the movie “Annie Hall”. By not contacting Woody Allen and/or his agency, and acquiring all the necessary permissions and paying a negotiated usage fee, a lawsuit initiated by Mr. Allen followed, who sought $10 million in damages. The lawsuit accused the retailer of using the filmmaker’s image without permission and furthermore, incurred a profit from it. The retailer paid the consequences for their unlawful actions to the tune of a $5 million settlement. Did American Apparel’s ROI cover this lawsuit? Something to think about when you’re considering using a famous face to sell your product and/or service without permission. For more on this story: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124265734071730621.html?mod=dist_smartbrief

5 DON’T just think it’s famous faces. Characters and cartoons from movies and TV and/or the likeness of them, usage of their names, and even the usage of an average, everyday person, are protected under the copyright law. You must acquire permission from a person(s) and/or their agency and likely pay a usage fee. In the case of using a photo of an average everyday person, it’s in your best interest to have the person(s) sign a photo consent form. Make sure your consent form is quite clear on the intent and usage. Here is a sample of what a general consent form may look like.

6 DON’T assume an image is in the public domain. As you’ve now learned, if you want to use a photo of someone famous in an ad campaign to sell your product and/or service, you’re going to have to ask his/her agency’s permission, get a licensing agreement and pay handsomely for it. But is that person alive, or are they deceased for less then 70 years? After the Copyright Term Extension Act in 1998, an additional 20 years was added to the copyright law. Copyright protection availability extended for the life of the author, plus 50 years. With the additional 20 years, it makes it a total of life plus 70 years. If the work is of corporation authorship or other entity, the term is 75 years plus the additional 20 years. Beyond this period, the image becomes public domain. Under this Extension Act, original works made in or after 1923 that still hold their copyright in 1998 will not enter the public domain until 2019 or later.