If you own a business or do any work that involves sourcing images or using text written by others, then the issue of potential copyright violation is always lurking in the background.

These days, thanks to the internet, it is easier than ever to find and use other people’s creations. Hiring someone to create original work is usually the safest bet to ensure no copyright violations occur, but if this isn’t possible, then sourcing appropriate pictures, images and other forms of intellectual property is very important, and seeking permission from the creator is essential.

If you don’t, the consequences could be severe. In the UK, there is a long list of different penalties for different aspects of copyright violation – from infringing a trademark, to ‘making or dealing with infringing articles’. For the sake of simplicity, we will look at the most common copyright violation issues to worry about – violating copyright of images and text.

Infringing the copyright of articles

According to the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act of 1988, when it comes to the matter of ‘Criminal liability for making or dealing with infringing articles’, the minimum penalty – for someone who has made ‘an article specifically designed or adapted for making copies of a particular copyright work’ or who ‘has such an article in his possession – is 3 months imprisonment or a £5,000 fine. The maximum indictment for the various copyright offences that fall under this category is 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine.

With such hefty penalties, you can understand the importance of making sure any text you are using in the course of your work or business is original and not plagiarised in any way, even accidentally.

Violating image copyright

When it comes to using photographs and other images, many people opt to acquire pictures from an online stock library as we have mentioned, or hire someone to create original images specifically for their company.

Stock libraries are a very helpful resource, as they provide a wide variety of images which their copyright owners have agreed to offer for certain uses. However, the creators of those images still hold the copyright for their work, so while you have the ability to buy them and use them, you must remember that you still do not own the copyright to them.

If you do infringe image copyright, either accidentally or on purpose, at the very least the case will be treated as a civil offence, but in the worst case scenario if taken to the Crown Court, you could receive unlimited fines and imprisonment for up to 10 years.

Staying on the right side of copyright law

As you can see, violating copyright can come with serious consequences. To make sure you avoid any expensive errors, why not sign up for our sophisticated digital asset management software? It makes keeping track of copyright on images and other files much easier, as all information is catalogued for easy access. To find out more with a one-to-one demo, contact our team!

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