Avoiding Intellectual Property Infringement in Your Website CopyEric Merlin
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about staying on the right side of intellectual property laws in the UK…
When managing a website, you can be faced with a number of different challenges.
Some of the most common problems with a webpage include low-quality content and poor navigation. Ultimately, these challenges can result in fewer visitors to your page and reflect badly on your business.
When publishing content on your website, one of the most important things to bear in mind is making sure that your content does not infringe on intellectual property law. As this could have steep consequences for your business, including both reputational and physical damage.
Furthermore, in this article, we’ll explain what these laws are and how to avoid breaking them…
What is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual property largely refers to intangible property that is not physical in nature. Such property can include music, written words and art sold as NFTs. Intellectual property is protected by copyright, trademarks, or patents to stop other people from misappropriating your work.
What is Intellectual Property Law Infringement?
This occurs when a person or a business takes a piece of intellectual property, and then publishes it for their own benefit – for example, on their website. If caught, this infringement can result in legal action which can have reputational and financial consequences.
How to Avoid Intellectual Property Law Infringements
Avoiding infringements of intellectual property law can save you a significant amount of time, money, and hassle. In this section, we’ll share a few tips on keeping on the right side of intellectual property laws:
Make No Assumptions
In a lot of cases, intellectual property will be marked with a watermark on images or with a credit however, this is not always the case. Just because a piece of work contains no such mark, you should not assume that it is therefore free to use. A good rule of thumb is to assume that work is protected unless told otherwise.
It may be that you’ll come across an image or piece of music which you would like to use on your website – and it may be possible to do so. However, firstly you’ll need to gain permission and, in some instances, make a payment. Often, this property will be displayed on a website which will offer you options on use. If not, you will need to find out who owns the property and then contact them to ask for permission.
If you are seeking permission to publish a commercial piece of music, there’s a possibility that you will need to do this through the Performing Rights Society.
With written content, it may be that you are unable to find a contact or even the name of the author, in which case you need to proceed with caution. If sharing an article or other written work on your website, where possible you should credit the author. Additionally, you should always link back to the original article to show that you are not trying to pass the work off as your own.
When publishing original content on your website, it’s always worth doing a quick Google search to make sure that you are not inadvertently plagiarising somebody else’s work.
For a high-profile person, their name is often part of their branding and, in many cases, is protected as their personal intellectual property. For this reason, you should be extremely careful if using the name of a famous person on your website. Furthermore, you should never be tempted to use a person’s name in connection with a testimonial for your company or brand.
Some people do this in the mistaken belief that nobody will know, however, famous people hire people to crawl the internet for mentions of their name to ensure that their reputation is not being damaged. Using a famous person’s name without permission can land you and your business in hot water – including possible legal action.
Websites and Intellectual Property
When somebody’s intellectual property is how they make a living, they will tend to take any kind of infringement extremely seriously. While you may feel that using all or part of somebody’s work on your website is no big deal, the owner may well see this as lost revenue – and a court of law will often agree with them.
Asking for permission first is not only the polite thing to do but, will also keep you out of trouble with the law.
As mentioned, it’s usually fairly easy to find out who a piece of work belongs to. In cases where it’s not so easy, make sure that you always link back to the work so that you cannot be accused of trying to claim it as your own.
Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained IP legal professional. Be sure to consult an Intellectual property lawyer/solicitor if you’re seeking advice on copyright law. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.