A Picture Worth a $1,000.00 fine?

We have now been contacted by our third ministry concerning their contact by a company indicating a copyright violation by the ministry using a picture on their website without a license.  A fine of $1,000.00 was requested and a demand to delete the picture from the website.

Many churches and ministries add pictures to their websites.  Those working on the websites usually run a Google search and assume that the picture they find from such search is free to use.  Unfortunately, those ministries later discovered that the picture belonged to a stock image company and its use without a license from the company is a copyright violation.

If you want to use pictures on your website, I would suggest you contact a stock image company, secure a license to use the picture, secure their release that they will take responsibility for any copyright violation and pay the license fee.  Then you should be able to rest assured that your website will not be in copyright violation for its use of the picture.

Many churches like to post pictures on their Facebook pages of their various events including the people who attend those events.  You might have some risk of a lawsuit from those individuals for the improper use of their likeness without their approval.  To be safe you may want to secure a release from any individuals whose images you want to use  in your Facebook posts.  Most individuals would have no objection to the use of their image and would have no problem in giving a release.  However, all it takes is one disgruntled member to file a suit because you used their image without their permission.  Better be safe than sorry.

The old saying of ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ was not meant to cover the thousand words of a lawsuit to seek damages for the unapproved use a someone’s image (picture).

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