by Tanya Klumb

You’re driving down the road, going a little fast. But who’s going to notice … if you’re lucky, no one. But if you’re driving that bright yellow Maserati — be prepared to be pulled over.

You might be able to afford that speeding ticket you received but Mr. Copyright can decimate your business.

The big question that Mr. Copyright looks at is are you making money from using someone’s work. It could be a song, an image, and sometimes even a word. Ready for the Super Bowl Big Game? (Don’t mess around with the NFL — I’m even scared to write that word).

If you do use someone else’s work, are you ready to pay Mr. Copyright a royalty on all your earnings? A lump sum of $150,000+? Or, be sued? These are all the tools that a copyright holder can use to recoup their loss.

You can use copyrighted work under Fair Use. But, what is Fair Use?

(in US copyright law) The doctrine that brief excerpts of copyright material may, under certain circumstances, be quoted verbatim for purposes such as criticism, news reporting, teaching, and research, without the need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder.

Here are a few myths about copyright.

1. No one contacted me. I must be okay to use it.

As we all know the internet is huge. If you are hosting a video on your own website and not through YouTube or Vimeo then it might take the copyright holder longer to find you. But the longer you benefit from someone else’s copyright, the harsher the penalty will be when you are caught.

2. My use is as a fan.

This one can be a little complex. On your personal pages (YouTube, Facebook … etc) you may be okay. The only time you would have a chance to monetize this type of work if it’s a parody. Comedy, (Criticism) is protected by US laws. If you are uncertain, then it isn’t a good idea.

3. Would it be okay if I didn’t make any money?

The copyright holder will still be able to force a takedown of your material. While not making money from something it could be the first step of covering your behind. You may be generally safe from a major lawsuit if it used within fair use guidelines (see above). But if it is for your business, money most likely is involved — at least indirectly.

4. If I don’t see a copyright notice is it okay?

Nope. Everything out there that someone created is copyrighted. It is immediately protected by the creator with no action required. Take a picture, or record a new song on your piano you now have a copyright. If you place a notice on your work it could increase the power of the copyright and the damages received.

5. It’s on the internet, so that’s public domain.

Not even close. More often than not; videos, music, and images you find on the internet will be copyrighted material. Just because it’s on the internet does not grant you any permissions to use it.

6. I credited the artist.

Sorry, unless they gave you permission, crediting them won’t work. You may still be penalized to the full extent of the law. When it doubt, leave it out!

Creating content for your company that doesn’t break copyright.

First, work with a reputable company to create your content. At CutBoard we make sure that all video, images, and music is individually licensed to our clients.

For music resources, we like to source from Premium Beat and Audio Jungle. Both provide great music options and sound effects at a reasonable cost. Sound effects can be a couple dollars and music tracks are dependent on where you are going to use them. If it’s on the web it is around $50 and for broadcast (tv commercial) then the license is $200. It’s a small price to pay to give both us and our clients a piece of mind.

When looking for video or image sources we recommend iStock Photo, Adobe Stock, and Shutterstock. Most the time we can download a watermarked image and show you how that material can supplement your project.

The best solution we recommend to our clients to create custom content. Which is why we work with companies to create video and designs which are unique to their businesses. No business is exactly the same … your advertising shouldn’t be either.

Our production rates are some of the lowest in Spokane, making it easy for us to come to your business take photographs or video.

Interested in having CutBoard film, edit, produce a video, or handle anything graphic design related?

We’d love to talk with you about your project. If you’re ready … let’s chat.