The Rise of IP Lawsuits When Posting Images: How to Navigate and Avoid Copyright Infringement Issues


Chair of Olshan’s Intellectual Property Law Group and Co-Chair of the firm’s Brand Management & Protection Group Mary Grieco and litigation counsel Katherine Mateo published an IPWatchdog article entitled “The Rise of IP Lawsuits When Posting Images: How to Navigate and Avoid Copyright Infringement Issues.” In the article, Mary and Kat discuss how the unlicensed use of another person’s photograph, even if that photograph is of yourself, comes with potentially robust legal ramifications. The authors explain that if there is a valid copyright registration before the unauthorized use occurs, a prevailing plaintiff may be entitled to legal fees in addition to monetary damages. “For all the benefits that social media can grant, it can also be a minefield for thorny legal claims, particularly with respect to the unlicensed use of images on social media posts, even if they are of you or your own product!” Mary and Kat write. “Contrary to popular belief, just because someone posts a photo on the internet or to a public social media account does not make it public domain.” They advise that, to avoid falling into such expensive traps, obtain a license for use of any third-party image. Furthermore, if you use another person’s  image to promote a business or product, you must also get permission from that person even if the photographer has already signed off: “In order to avoid claims of copyright infringement or violation of the rights of publicity/privacy, all uses of photographs should be properly licensed and clear, written permission from the individuals depicted in a photograph must be obtained.”

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