Even a quick look at legal blogs shows how important photos can be. They spice up the page, and don’t leave the reader as disappointed as you were, when you saw this post was just an imposing wall of text.
Unfortunately, photos are a legal landmine, for those who don’t know exactly how to navigate the terrain. Regardless of whether you meant to or not, using the wrong photo can lead to legal claims of copyright infringement that can be crippling for your firm’s finances, reputation, and even its prominence online.
Financially, infringing on someone else’s copyright can lead to a lawsuit that is not only expensive to lose, but even expensive to fight. Claims of copyright infringement are long, fact-intensive affairs that require significant legal fees to defend. For a small business or law firm, the potential financial toll of a claim of copyright infringement is crippling.
Copyright holders understand this, and count on it when they levy accusations of copyright infringement. Copyright holders, especially large corporations with designated legal departments and budgets, file infringement claims fast, often, and without much hesitation. Even if your use of their picture is almost definitely covered by the fair use doctrine, they’ll likely file an infringement claim. Even if their ownership of a copyright is tenuous, at best, they’ll likely file an infringement claim. Because much of the effort in a copyright claim falls on the defense, copyright holders have little to lose.
Getting accused of copyright infringement can be especially problematic for a law firm. Laypeople don’t care if you’re a criminal defense or personal injury attorney, and have never used copyright law since the bar exam. If word gets out that a law firm made a legal mistake and allegedly violated someone’s copyright, your reputation will take a hit.
The implications don’t even stop there, either. One of the factors that Google uses to determine where you rank on particular searches is whether your site has been accused of copyright infringement in the past. Google’s been penalizing sites that have a history of copyright infringement claims since back in 2012, when it implemented its Pirate Update.
All of these factors have dangerous implications for your business, especially if you’re in a competitive market. Back in 2009, Google estimated that no less than 57% of copyright infringement claims were sent by businesses, targeting their competitors. With the way intellectual property laws are stilted towards copyright holders, there’s little to stop a bully from using copyright law to push others around.
As a result, how you handle photos for your law firm’s blog can be like juggling fire. One small mistake can lead to a serious burn, and lasting repercussions. There’s no way to play things too safely.
Luckily, when you hire Myers Freelance to write the content for your website, we cover your photos, as well. We know where to go to get high quality, relevant pictures for your website that won’t raise legal issues for you, down the road. It’s just one more thing that we do, to make your post look better than something like this.