By Craig Fitzgerald
Utilizing original content is better than pushing out free content or leveraging content from content farms. The problem is, many marketers don’t have the budget, skill set or personnel to produce a steady drumbeat of varied and engaging original content. As such, the natural inclination is to simply pass along content found in a web search. But the legal implications of doing so can be costly, especially in a landscape where content providers are looking to maximize revenue from their content.
Here are three tips for marketers to follow to correctly use content found on the web:
• Live by the golden rule: “if you didn’t write it, you need written permission to republish it.”
The rules around copyright are clear and unambiguous: If you didn’t write it, you don’t have the right to republish it, in any form, without the written permission of the person who did. This applies to photographs, video, articles, and podcasts. At one time, work was only protected if it included the copyright symbol (©), but today, works are now considered copyrighted regardless of the symbol’s presence.
Permission to use copyrighted content most often comes after you write a check. Publicly displaying or reproducing the work of an original creator without permission is a clear case of copyright infringement. In the case of the automotive industry, for example, you cannot refer to Consumer Reports, JD Power, etc. without written consent.
However, almost all cases of plagiarism can be avoided by citing a source. Acknowledging that certain material has been borrowed, and then providing the audience with the information necessary to find that source, is generally considered enough to prevent plagiarism.
• Utilize web resources to legally source images to enhance content.
While a quick search on Google images will provide you with plenty of pictures that could enhance your content, these images are not meant to be copied and shared. The page associated with the image details the copyright holder. You need to find out where the image came from, get permissions to use it and then attribute it to the original creator. Otherwise, you risk generating an unexpected expense.