Businesses may be quick to protect their intellectual property such as company name or product patents but they often overlook the need to both protect their own image rights and to also ensure they use the images of others appropriately warns Adams & Remers.
A recent example highlights this where Tesco sold a range of clothing with the photograph of a fashion blogger on it, which she claims was used without her knowledge or permission.
If you are using any artwork, graphics or photographs which originates from someone else, or which you have found on a website (whether an independent website of one purposely set as an “image bank”) then you must make sure you have a licence in place before using them for the purpose and length of time you intend to display them for. You should also make sure you understand what you are agreeing to if you download or buy images online, as many people simply agree to the website’s terms and conditions without actually reading them thoroughly.
One of our clients found themselves in trouble with Getty Images after they had used an image online without the correct permission from Getty. Getty wrote to the client asking them to remove the image from their website and was also demanding the payment of their costs and what ended up amounting to quite substantial damages as the matter went on.
Businesses also need to be aware that if they are using their own images on social media sites such as Facebook for example they will be agreeing to the site having a non-exclusive royalty free worldwide licence to use the images for the duration they are displayed on the site. Once you delete those images though, the licence does terminate.
The owners of websites should also be careful as if they allow a third party to advertise on their site and they are warranting their image rights, then it is the website owner whom legal action could be taken against by the original owner of the image. In this scenario the owner of the website should make sure that they have entered into appropriate terms and conditions with the third party wanting to advertise or link through to the website, and should also include a disclaimer within their own terms and conditions on the website relating to third party’s actions.
This is a really complicated area for businesses and they should pay attention to protecting their own images and making sure they do not unintentionally use the images of others which could prove a very costly mistake.