As a financial advisor marketing your business, we know that you are already worried about social media compliance, in addition to budget, promotional and operational challenges. The last thing you need is for a bill to show up at your office for a $1,000 fine as a result of a copyright violation. This is exactly what can happen (and believe me, it does) if you use content in your marketing materials- social media or otherwise- that you found on the internet and don’t have permission to use. The biggest offender… photos. Have you ever pulled a stock photo from Google Images to spice up your financial blog? If so, you may be guilty of copyright violation which if discovered, can lead to some very hefty fees.
Some of the confusion about copyright laws stems from the behavior of social sharing and the internet itself. Social media has made images and information so accessible, it’s easy to forget someone owns that content as its originator. Just because someone has placed a photo or graphic they created in a public domain, doesn’t mean it is free for anyone to download and use in their own way.
So, what are some simple precautions advisors can take to avoid getting caught in a copyright catastrophe?
DO Know what is protected by copyright: Any original photo, image, video, music, text, and design is automatically protected under copyright from the time it is created.
DON’T Assume: If someone has shared an image they have the rights to, it doesn’t necessarily mean anyone can now use this image. Only the individual or company that has the rights to an image can use that image.
DO Ask the owner for permission: If you have found the perfect image for your website or financial seminar promotional material, ask permission from the owner to use it. Make sure that you have the appropriate license for the image when you do receive permission and always remember to give credit to the photographer or creator.
DON’T Link to the image as a means of citation: Just because you have cited the source of the photo, doesn’t mean you have the right to use it.
DO Use sites that offer royalty-free or pay-per-image stock photos: You can find a surprising amount of quality images that are legal to download for marketing your financial business. Some good ones are:
• Microsoft Images (free)
• Stock.xchng (free)
• RGB Stock (free)
• Morgue File (free)
• iStock Purchase credits on this site to download images. This can be incredibly affordable depending on the image.
• Shutterstock.com This subscription service might be a good idea if you are constantly in need of quality stock photos.
DON’T Give up: Images are a great way to add value to your marketing materials and increase engagement. Get educated and use the helpful sites above so that you can still reap the benefits of using great pictures without any of the legal mess.
Just as we recommend when dealing with social media compliance, as long as you know the rules and what actions to take, you can easily achieve your marketing goals without breaking copyright laws.
Stay tuned for the second part of this copyright blog- Written Content Copyright DOs & DON’Ts – coming soon!
For more information on stock image rights and copyright laws, take a look at these helpful resources: