The Forum of Private Business (FPB) has reported a noticeable increase in calls to its helpline from businesses that inadvertently included on their websites images that are protected by copyright and subsequently received demands for payment from the copyright owners.
FPB Chief Executive Phil Orford said, “I think the digital age has blurred the boundaries of image copyright in many people’s minds and some business owners mistakenly think that because an image is freely available on the Internet, it can be reused without permission.
“Additionally, many smaller businesses entrust web design companies with the whole process of registering and creating their website, and presume that their web design company will only use images they are entitled to use. However, this isn’t always the case, so I would urge business owners to check they are legally entitled to use each and every image on their websites.”
Software exists which enables copyright holders to scan the Internet to identify any use of their pictures, so anyone who uses images without a valid licence to do so runs the risk of claims from companies such as Getty Images, which has a policy of actively pursuing infringements of its copyright.