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Copyright infringement can lead to serious legal issues

In these days of heavy Internet activity, having visuals to go with your blog posts is a necessity. The same is true for many in-person presentations. This brings up the important question of where you should turn for the images you need. If you aren't planning on heading out to take your own pictures, you might decide to turn to the Internet to get the pictures you need. If you opt to do that, you should make sure that you are allowed to use the pictures you find. Copyright infringement can be a very serious issue.

Generally, you can't just grab any image you like and use it on your online or printed materials. Instead, you have to ensure that you have permission to use images that aren't your image. This is covered by the Fair Use Doctrine. When you have permission to use the image, you aren't in violation of this doctrine and haven't committed copyright infringement.

A person who owns the copyright to an image has five rights. These include the right to:

-- Derivative works

-- Reproduce the work

-- Publicly display the work

-- Distribution

-- Perform the work in public

The owner of the work doesn't have to take any steps to get these rights. They are automatic and in force as soon as an original work is created -- even before it is actually published.

If you find yourself in legal hot water over the images you used, you must find out how current laws apply to your case. This can often provide you with a starting point for developing your legal defense against the accusations.

Source: Hubspot.com, "Is This Copyright Infringement? What Images You Can & Can't Share," Lindsay Kolowich, accessed July 28, 2016

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