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Copyright & Your Small Business

Do You need Permission?

As a small business owner you will need copyright permission if:

  • you are planning to use artwork, photograph or drawing that is protected by copyright

  • you use a significant part of an artwork, photograph or drawing

  • the copyright has not expired yet (expired 50 years after the copyright owner passes away in most cases)

  • the way you are using the artwork, photograph or drawing is controlled by the copyright owner (the copyright owner has the exclusive right to
    make the use)

  • The way you are using the copyright work is outside the scope of the usage agreement.

When is copyright permission not needed:

  • if you are only using a tiny bit of the artwork, image or drawing or sounds

  • The material was never protected by copyright in the first place (styles, ideas, genres)

  • If you are only using ideas, information or styles, however, some styles or genres and particular items might protected by copyright.

  • Be aware that adopting someone else’s style may give rise to issues under areas of law such as “passing off”

  • people generally are not protected by copyright, but using their image can in some cases give rise to issues under other areas of law – including "passing off" or “trade practices” law, including defamation.

Free Licenses

Some designers, photographers, artists and typographers offer “free” licences to use their material – and can make this work available in the interenet. It is important to be aware however that these works are still subject to conditions including attribution (crediting the artist) or for personal/student use only. Read the terms and conditions before using anything from the web.

"But I found it on Google Images"

Just because an image is on the web does not mean it is free to use. It is only free to use if there is writing that expressly states the terms and conditions of use. Images on Google image searches are covered by international copyright law and thus it is not a "free for all" if you find it on Google or any other search engine. If you aren't sure, contact the creator of the artwork or copyright owner.

What is there is No Copyright notice?

Artwork, photohgraphs and drawings don't have to have a copyright notice or the author’s name on it for protection.Without a copyright notice or the author’s name can make it harder to ask for permission.

Below are links and downloads to help you understand the basics of copyright law.