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There is no such thing as a free lunch, or free photo! Be proactive with the Intellectual Property y

Have you ever grabbed a photo off of the internet or social media, assuming that it is free because it is publicly accessible? Chances are, your assumption is wrong.

In reality, there is a very high likelihood that someone owns that image. While on Business Growth Café, Stephanie Pottick of Pottick Law shared that using copyrighted photos and other intellectual property can be detrimental to a brand, both legally and financially—so it is important to be proactive.

If content is copyrighted, the owner of that content has the sole right to use that content, as well as control over who else has permission to use it. While quickly grabbing a photo off of Google Images may not seem like a big deal, there are companies such as Getty Images that search websites and blogs to track down the unauthorized use of protected, copyrighted materials.

Regardless of what you used the content for, what your intentions were, or how much money you made or saved from the content – you could potentially be sued under the Copyright Statute, for as much at $150,000, for each violation. That will definitely have an impact on your bottom line!

The costs of using copyrighted materials are simply not worth the risk versus the cost of licensing the photo for a few dollars. Avoid the risks, and trust me, don’t use content that you didn't license from an online company.

Don’t be fooled—even if a website claims to offer “free” stock photos, or other copyrighted materials, this may not be the case. Read the Terms and Conditions; you may discover that while you can use the photo for “free,” you could still potentially be sued by the copyright owner.

On the other side of the coin, it is important to be aware of your responsibilities as an intellectual property owner. As Stephanie Pottick shared on the radio show, it's your duty to police unauthorized use of your content in the marketplace, and protect your intellectual property.

Whether you are on the giving or receiving end, it is important to be proactive and aware. If in doubt, stick to your own intellectual property: content that is uniquely yours.

For more insight on this topic and much more, listen to my recent interview with Stephanie Pottick of Pottick Law on my radio show, Business Growth Cafe here:

To subscribe to Business Growth Cafe for weekly insight on several business topics, visit businessgrowthcafe.com or your favorite podcasting platform.

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