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If you have ever done very much posting on the web, you have likely turned to images to help illustrate a point you were trying to make. When you pull that image from somewhere else on the Internet, do you ever consider who made it? Do you know if you have permission to post it on your website? This is an issue that many bloggers and website businesses in the U.S. and abroad face.
Countries all over the world are starting to crack down on copyright infringement, meaning users of images need to be more conscious about the permissions they have to use certain pictures. Should you as a web host offer stock images to customers so as to cut down on rampant infringement? There may be many benefits to doing so.
The Infringement Predicament
Nearly everything is just a click away thanks to the Internet. Information all over the world is available in just a few seconds. If you have the technological know-how, then taking information or images off of someone else’s page is also very simple. Many authors and creators attempt to mark their works in such a way that they cannot be used without identifying the original creator. Yet there are still people who take the work of others and tout it as their own. When this kind of use of someone else’s material falsely attributes work to another or infringes financially on the original creator, it is known as copyright infringement. While such infringement has always existed, it has become much easier to do thanks to Internet access.
More Countries Are Joining the Copyright Battle
Although the enforcement of copyright seems to be prevalent mostly in the United States, more and more countries all over the world are joining the copyright battle. Most countries have some sort of copyright law that protects a written piece of work for the life of the creator plus an additional 50 or more years after the creator’s death. Movies are usually copyrighted for 50 years following creation, and images may be copyrighted for at least 25 years after creation.
Your Role in Copyrighted vs. Fair Use Material
How does the use of copyrighted material affect you as a web host? It’s not like action is taken as soon as something that is copyrighted appears on a site that you are hosting. In most cases, there is only legal action if the original creator cites infringement. In this case, you and the client accused of copyright infringement would need to be notified and given a chance to take the material down. It’s often more of a nuisance than anything else, since many of your clients might not even realize they are breaking any copyright laws.
Fair use material, on the other hand, can be used on anyone’s website. In fact, there are businesses dedicated to providing customers with a wealth of stock images they can freely use—provided they subscribe to the service. With careful searching, there are also sites dedicated to providing copyright- and royalty-free images for anyone to use at no cost.
What Options Do You Have?
You have a few options when it comes to helping your customers avoid copyright infringement. You can notify your customers any time you find out they are using copyrighted material without permission. You can purchase smaller stocks of images and provide them to your clients with your hosting service. You can also create your own images and provide or sell them to your clients for use.
Purchasing Smaller Stock Sources
There are some companies that sell stock images at a specified price per image. If you want your customers to have a variety of images to use that are not tied up under copyright, you may be able to purchase a set of these images. There are many benefits to using stock images from another source.
- You don’t have to stress about creating them
- There are a variety of subjects and styles to choose from
- The images are already appropriately sized for use on a website (in most cases)
There may be specific rules and regulations regarding the use of certain stock images. You will want to make sure that you are allowed to share whatever stock sets you purchase or download with your customers. You also might not be able to charge your customers for certain sets after purchase. Although stock images may help you and your customers avoid copyright infringement, make certain you are using and providing them to your customers appropriately.
Starting Your Own Image Stock
If you really want to avoid the risk of copyright infringement altogether, you can create your very own image stock. This may or may not be difficult to do depending on your skills as an artist or photographer. Although it can take some time to build up your very own stock, creating your own set has many benefits, including that you know who created the image and you may be able to charge extra for using them. In fact, creating your own image stock can be a great way to collect a little cash on the side, especially if you make the images available for purchase by more than just your hosting customers.
Your Customers Aren’t the Only Ones Affected by Infringement
Although it might seem like a harmless act, copyright infringement is very serious. When someone uses another’s work without permission, it can affect the reputation and even the finances of the original creator. In essence, violating copyright is violating a part of someone else’s livelihood. As a web host, it is your duty to make sure your business is following the laws of your country, and that even images and work created in another country are used in compliance with that country’s copyright laws. When your customers break copyright laws, it affects you and the original creator of the work. If the fear of copyright infringement has you down, then you might consider offering stock images to customers in order to cut down on infringement. This lets you know where the images came from, and it can even earn you some extra income if you sell your own image stock. It also gives you a way to provide your customers with other options if you need to ask them to remove copyrighted images from their sites. You can help to cut down on the spread of copyright infringement. Take action today.
Top image ©GL Stock Images
As consumers increasingly utilize the Internet in many aspects of their daily lives, the challenge becomes enjoying the conveniences of online activities without sacrificing privacy. The mechanisms for protecting privacy continue to evolve as the focus of online activity transitions from laptops and desktop computers to smartphones and other portable devices. With enhanced surveillance from government agencies, do web hosts owe their customers notice that their websites and data has been read by other sources?
How Does The Government Access Personal Information?
The government may want private data for regulation implementation reasons or external intelligence inquiries. In fact, they can obtain your electronic records and communications through wiretapping, warrant, or subpoena. Some protection exists against access to email and additional online activities. The government does understand, acknowledge, and appreciate that some Internet activities justify safeguards. The challenge becomes deciding which Internet activities these protections affect.
Consider that current government surveillance can generate the following data from your web host:
- Email header message in addition to the subject line
- IP address
- IP address of computers communicated with
- A list of all sites visited
This capability leads to the emergence of two key policy questions stemming from the technical realities of the Internet today.
- Do we all have a reasonable expectation of privacy when we use the Internet?
- When a user encrypts Internet communications, does that entitle them to extended privacy? As a consequence, is the Internet less secure because of the possible need for the government to decrypt it?
What Are Acceptable Surveillance Measures?
The solution to these questions and also an indicator as to if the government is acting appropriately leads to one main issue. How do we know when web discussions are related to espionage, terrorism or criminal activity? The premise is that if they are, then the government should recognize them, be entitled to observe them, and provide a reasonable measure of security.
It seems plausible to conclude that Internet privacy should not extend to offenders. Additionally, the government should observe their communications whether or not encryption is present or perhaps especially if it does. Web hosts should focus on the threshold of how the determination is made to watch particular Internet communications or a specific level of communications. More importantly, an understanding should exist on who monitors and manages this determination.
Several distinct organizations establish appropriate criteria for surveillance in diverse ways. One perspective holds that before implementing monitoring, evaluation of the means, context, and intended uses are critical.
What Are The Means Used To Gather Data?
Extensive unprocessed volumes of data retrieved from Internet traffic are collected and stored daily in data warehouses. Software is used to inspect social media posts, online purchases, files sent by email, and all web sites visited. Analysts have to defend why they suspect someone is communicating outside of the U.S. when requesting additional information. This raises questions, including:
- Does the manner cause unfair or unjust psychological or psychological harm?
- Does it overlook a personal boundary without approval, such as providing intimidating, false, or misleading information?
- Does the method violate conjectures concerning how data will be handled, including the absence of secret recordings?
- Does the technique generate invalid conclusions?
What Does Data Collection Reveal?
Due to the extreme amount of data collected, storing the full contents of intercepted web traffic cannot usually exceed more than 30 days. However, the law permits the storage of some metadata for five years. Additionally, investigators can move specific documents to permanent databases when it becomes connected with and relevant to an ongoing and open-ended investigation. The law authorizes the targeting of certain individuals, allowing monitoring of all standards of communication, including Internet use, without their knowledge or consent. However, if the government wants private emails or social media posts, for example, it must request this data from the web hosts. All of this leads to more critical matters for web hosting consideration.
- Should individuals provide consent web hosts for the data collection?
- Are there systems for disputing the results, or for including optional data or explanations into the document?
- Is the data sufficiently protected?
- Is targeting broadly applied to all?
What Uses Are Authorized For The Data That Is Collected?
While the government is only allowed to intercept communications if at least one part of the conversation is outside of the United States, it does not have to distinguish this fact upfront. What this means is that is can collect bulk data and sort it all out at a later date. If the secured information belongs to an American, the investigator must destroy that information. However, this determination cannot always be made by a machine. It typically occurs after a human investigator analyzes it. The safeguards are in place to protect data obtained from U.S. citizens who are not relevant to an ongoing investigation, unless evidence of a crime exists in the information. This brings up the issues of using the collection of mass surveillance data.
- Does the authorization of the method to gather information serve the objectives of the target of surveillance and not the particular aims of the government?
- Does an appropriate balance exist between the essential nature of the intent and the price of the means?
- Are the intentions of the data gathering legitimate? For instance, is there a distinct connection between the data obtained and the goal sought?
- Can the gathered information cause unfair harm or damage to its subject? If so, how will an individual be protected?
What Are The Best Methods For Web Hosts To Acknowledge Government Surveillance?
The government must apply certain safeguards and address with web hosts the practices and regulations governing surveillance of individuals and access to otherwise private information. The majority of hosts and users acknowledge that the government must preserve their security, assurance, and protection. For that reason, the current laws and applications are in of immediate improvement.
The established standards of free speech and privacy require alignment with the aims of assuring that intelligence efforts and government law enforcement are understandable and very clearly defined. Even though ethical surveillance is likely, there must exist feasible and publicly accessible documents and culpability for those recommending, supporting, and performing the surveillance.
Top image ©GL Stock Images