Adding a picture or image to your article, presentation or
marketing materials can add a human aspect and a visual value
association to the message you want to convey. Choosing your image
is tricky, and clearing the rights to use that image can be
daunting. This is particularly true when you are using the image
for commercial purposes i.e. in the course of your work.
Clients often ask us:
"But we found the image on Google - doesn't that
mean we can just use it?"
The answer is no. Just because you find an image on Google or
elsewhere on the Internet does not mean you are automatically able
to use it. This is because the image may be protected by copyright
under the Copyright Act 1968 (or other similar legislation
around the world). The owner of the copyright in the
"works" (as that term is defined in the Act) has the
exclusive right to do each of the following:
(a) reproduce the image;
(b) make the image public for the first time;
(c) communicate the image to the public (including online);
(d) make an adaptation of the image.
You may infringe the owner's copyright when you do (or
authorise someone else to do) any one of the acts exclusively
controlled by the copyright owner without their permission (and
where no defence or exception to infringement applies).
Defences and exceptions include where use of the image is a fair
dealing for the purposes of criticism or review, research or study,
reporting news, or parody or satire. A reasonable portion only must
be used and the use of that portion (and the dealing) must be
Ask us if you would like to know more about these defences and
how they operate.
Google have released a new tool that allows you to search
specifically for images that are cleared for commercial use. Go to
Google Images and use the drop down menu
corresponding to "Usage Rights" to select "labelled
for commercial re-use". Then enter your search term.
Many images will still be subject to conditions of use (for
example, under the Creative Commons Licence, you may be able to
copy the image on condition that you attribute the author the
You should always be diligent with ensuring you have cleared the
rights to use your nominated image, and the new Google tool is a
Swaab was recently named a 2009 Winner in the
ALB Employer of Choice awards, and was winner 'Best Law Firm in
Australia (Revenue < $20m)' and 'Attribute Award for
Exceptional Service (Australia Wide)'
in the 2008 BRW- Client Choice Awards.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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As a licensor or a licensee, here are some tips you should consider when negotiating your next licence agreement.
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