Digital Image Rights: Do You Own That Image In Your Ad?


Your Content

In today’s advertising market, the old adage “content is king,” is even more relevant than when it was originally coined. With the constant buzz of web media and internet advertising circulating through a global marketing economy, the question of digital image rights is an important one. In the face of shifting policies, and new, popular sources of user-generate content. Can you really answer the question: Do you own that image in your ad?


Creating Copyrights

Recent provisions in the revised copyright law cite that a photographer owns all rights to his pictures at the moment of creation. This includes the rights to sell, use, distribute, copy, publish, alter or destroy. Perpetuity of these rights continue throughout the life of the artist and 50 years after his or her death. While technically unnecessary, placing a copyright notice on all images will ensure that your rights are preserved. One exception to this ownership clause is images which are created through a work-for-hire agreement. Such is the case when an employer hires a photographer or other artist to produce work, wherein the artist signs a document relinquishing rights to the work.


Protected Works

In either of these cases, registering an image with the Copyright Office is an important action when attempting to secure an image with the propensity towards legal action should there be infringement. In other words, by officially registering your image through your government agency you can effectively seek damages and compensation both domestically and internationally.


Social Media

Social media has transformed our means of communication and provides dynamic marketing opportunities, but most users create content without any consideration for copyright laws.

  1. Twitter: It is difficult for a single tweet to receive a copyright, but it is possible. While factual statements cannot be copyrighted, there are cases where these short content selections have turned from potent marketing strategy to an intrinsic money-maker, through the inspiration of outside works such as books or TV series.
  2. Pinterest: When creating any social media account you agree to a set of rules and conditions. For Pinterest, this entails allowing a user to post anything under the term “User Content” which leaves you fully responsible for how this may or may not be used by other people on the internet. Although many users give credit to original authors, giving credit is not the same thing as having permission.
  3. Facebook: Facebook has a unique solution to the copyright issue as they include a statement in the process of uploading an image that makes the user formally confirm the image does not violate copyright laws. Likewise, Facebook has an internal system for reporting copyright infringement.


Online Relevance

The concept of digital image rights is more and more relevant to advertising as online marketing is quickly overtaking all other mediums. With a nearly endless supply of active users, the internet is a well of consumers, customers, and clients that can be tapped at any time. However, online marketing includes the pitfalls of subjugating your digital content to possible theft or unlawful reproduction. The best solution to this problem is to take the necessary steps to create watermarks on images, and file for the pertinent copyrights through a Copyright Office.