When it’s time to add relevant images to enhance your blog or web site, it’s easy to find some that will work well. If I’m looking for an image of a meeting in a conference room for example, all I have to do is type ‘conference room meeting image’ into Google. Next, I would search through them, find an image I like, right click and put it on my web site. Isn’t that the beauty of the using the internet?

The problem with this approach though is that it will most likely put you in copyright violation and might make you vulnerable to a copyright infringement law suit.

Purdue University spells out the possible legal penalties for copyright infringement:

  1. Infringer pays the actual dollar amount of damages and profits.
  2. The law provides a range from $200 to $150,000 for each work infringed.
  3. Infringer pays for all attorneys’ fees and court costs.
  4. The Court can issue an injunction to stop the infringing acts.
  5. The Court can impound the illegal works.
  6. The infringer can go to jail.

And this doesn’t include your time and legal fees. In addition, many infringement claims are made against individuals, startups or unsophisticated small entities as these are seen as easy targets.

The bottom line is that you don’t want to put yourself into this position.

Importantly, there are unsubstantiated suspicions that some copyright owners seed their images on the Internet with the intended purpose of inducing infringement.  Services such as imagewitness are then used to monitor and track the use of these images providing copyright holders the ability to pursue infringements. With imagewitness pricing plans of $50/month for 4,000 images you can see where it becomes more profitable for photographers to pursue copyright infringement than it is to actually sell their images.

Once copyright infringement has been identified, the stigma associated with the lawsuit, the potential fines and the costs of litigation force the consumer to consider a quick settlement. When law firms can look for thousands of payments in the $3,000 to $9,000 range, this can be a very profitable side business, and one that more than a few are pursuing.