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