How Unsuspecting Associations Can End Up in a Lawsuit

Using the internet to find images for your association’s website and social media channels? BE CAREFUL! It’s critical to avoid copyright infringements.

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association copyright lawsuit imageThere are companies out there that do nothing but search the web for copyright infringement. They’re known as copyright trolls. Wikipedia defines a copyright troll as a party (person or company) that enforces copyrights for purposes of making money through litigation, in a manner considered unduly aggressive or opportunistic.

They use web crawlers to find violations and then often negotiate a financial split of the collected fines with the owner of the image. They then sue for damages.

There are reported cases from a few hundred dollars to $300,000. The average amount is around $3000-$8000. The key is understanding current Fair Use copyright laws. It doesn’t matter if it was unintentional or if you took it down, you are still liable.

There is a fantastic article from The Content Factory (a digital marketing company) about a situation they experienced when they used a copyrighted image on a client blog. We encourage you to read about their journey.

This is a very real issue, and your association (and members) would be well advised to get a clear understanding of the laws.

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