Today’s post is about being a thoughtful and considerate user when it comes to using photographs and works of art in your marketing efforts. A big thanks going out to Ariadne Athanassiadis for her legal expertise this week. Her insights make up the great bulk of this post.
How many of these examples apply to you?
- you go to a concert, record a 30 second clip of your favourite band’s greatest hit, then post it to Instagram
- You take photos of a famous sculpture, and later create a funny “meme” you post on Twitter
- You visit a gallery, snap a beautiful picture of a famous painting -then later use that photo as your Facebook banner.
It’s safe to say many people do the above without a second thought. But what about the artists’ rights as you post their works?
Because of social media and smart phones, the law is struggling with copyright issues. And all of the examples above deal with copyright issues. To be honest-we all do it. And while it may be quite a different thing to do in your personal social media pages than as part of your business brand, all contexts require some understanding of the issues.
Especially as a business owner, if you’re developing your brand, right now is a great time to start setting up processes around social media posts and the corresponding images. Setting up your brand guidelines is the perfect opportunity to start setting up your “rules and policies” for the type of images you’ll use, how they’ll be used, where they’ll come from, what permissions you may need, and how the artists will be credited. And one of the key factors is to document it all.
“Moral Rights” is another area you have to aware of as a business owner. The purpose of moral rights is to help artists maintain their reputation and maintain the integrity of theirartwork.
Moral rights don’t apply just to photographs; they apply to any work of art. Moral rights always stay with the author/artist. An artist can transfer copyright to you as a client, but the moral rights remain with the author and can be enforced unless the author waives the right to do so.
The perfect example of this is the Canada geese sculptures at the Eaton Centre in Toronto. < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow_v_Eaton_Centre_Ltd > a number of years ago the mall management decided to hang Christmas ornaments from the geese, so the geese in fact, became part of the holiday display. The author did not intend for that to happen, and exercised his moral rights to ask to have the ornaments removed-which they were. You can’t just take someone else’s work of art and start playing around with it because it disrupts the integrity of the artist’s work.
As you create a library of images for your marketing campaigns, be sure to develop and document your practices. Below are a few examples:
- ask people for permission to take their picture and document their consentto use the image for your business purposes.
- If you have a team and someone else is doing your social media, be sure to have processes & policies laid out, so it’s clear what they can and can’t doconsistent with copyright laws. This includes having a format for giving attributionthat meets required standards set by law or the artist/author, and you must ensure your team follows it.
- although you may not personally have posted a social media update, as the business owner you are responsible. Make sure you use reputable sources forimagesand get permission, or have a legal basis for not having permission, in case you need to justify legalities later on.
- With any artwork be transparent about the source, make sure to give the artist the credit that is their due.
- with photographs and stock images, you don’t have the unlimited right to use photos. Find out exactly how many times you can use an image (stock photography) and the specific types of uses permitted. Similarly, if you pay a photographer for photos, be clear about what you want to use the photos for and discuss whether you need the copyrights transferred to you and moral rights waived. You cannot assume that you will own the copyrights or that you can simply use these images however and forever.
Final note to keep in mind: the guidelines in this article are for information purposes only. When it comes to creative works (photography, graphic design, architectural design, buildings, sculptures, literary works, songs and so on) there are always grey areas. If you are using these heavily in your marketing and you’re not sure that you’re complying with the law, it’s always best to check with a copyright lawyer.
Ariadne Athanassiadis is an “all around intellectual property lawyer.” To learn more about her and her practice, please visit Kyma Professional Corporation.
Looking for brand image tips for your growing business? You’ve come to the right place!