School Your Communications Newbies in Copyright Laws

I came across this interesting article in the Washington Post (“Hey, Isn’t That. . .“) on how big corporations are poaching photos off of Flickr and private blogs and using them without attribution. When caught, the common reaction seems to be, “Ooops, an intern did it.” Not really an acceptable answer from the likes of the multinational corporations involved in the cases cited in the article, is it?

It reminded me of the similar excuses several nonprofit bloggers heard last fall when a bunch of us were hit with a spate of poached blog postings all around the same time. I wrote about fair use of blog posts and Nancy Schwartz also shared her story about a stolen article. In both of our cases, the perps attributed the problems to mistakes by “junior” staff.

When you hand off tasks like newsletter writing and finding photos for your publications to junior staff or interns, be sure to take five minutes to talk about copyright and proper attribution. Spend a few minutes at Creative Commons. This is definitely a case where a few minutes of prevention can save you hours of grief. Not only will you avoid the embarrassment associated with being publicly called out as a content thief, you’ll also save hours of time defending and/or apologizing for the behavior (and in the case of the corporations in the Post story, lots of legal fees.)



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