Yes, while the bulk of our work is with intellectual property owners in protecting their works in both licensing deals and protection from unauthorized use, we also advise businesses and web-developers on best practices for creating and maintaining products and websites that are compliant with all aspects copyright, trademark, and any other areas of law.
Probably not. Nothing about an image’s presence on a Google Image search confers a right to the person who conducts the search to then use this image for any purpose he or she desires. Just because an image is found on Google does not make it somehow in the “public domain,” which is a term reserved for an instance when no person can claim ownership to a work. There are of course some “fair use” exceptions, codified in 17 U.S. Code § 107.
Likely not. While not knowing the specific terms of conditions (or sources used to obtain imagery) of the exact “free wallpaper” website, many of such websites contain images that they have no right whatsoever to use. Many are privacy protected and/or run out of foreign jurisdictions where enforcement of IP rights can be extremely difficult, and using any such website with such a location is not a good practice. Professional photographers are not in the business of offering their images for free use on such websites. “Free wallpaper” websites are often rife with copyright infringing material, through even a very basic examination of most of those websites can discern. In fact, most of those websites do not even give assurances that images on their sites are proper for anyone to use for ANY purpose, thus a typical accompanying phrase such as “Images may be subject to copyright.” Finally, irrespective of the preceding, for an individual or company to use an image not as wallpaper would thus exceed the scope of any license the individual or company may have purported to have obtained.
This is incorrect. While profit disgorgement is one theory of damages, copyright holders can also be entitled to their actual damages. In the alternative, a copyright holder may elect to obtain statutory damages ranging up to $30,000.00 for each infringement or up to $150,000.00 for each willful infringement. If forced to pursue such damages through litigation, attorney’s fees may also be awarded.
We are happy to discuss all issues, please contact our office to discuss. At a very basic level, however, we can offer that if you did not take a photograph or create a piece of art yourself there is a chance that it may be subject to the rights of another. Using your own work is always a good practice. If you want to use works of another, paying for licenses from reputable sources is always a good place to begin, giving not only the potential for an inference that you are acting in good-faith with respect to your attempt to properly license material for its use (should that license turn out to be unauthorized) but also an extra layer of security as you should be able to look to the licensor for indemnification should there be anything defective with the right to use the work.
Yes. Please make no mistake about it, each person is responsible for their postings to their own social media accounts. Re-posting a copyrighted work which the original poster had no legitimate right to post in the initial instance is copyright infringement.