“The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by fines and federal imprisonment.”
People love to share cartoons on Facebook and Twitter, in newsletters, blogs, presentations at work, in classrooms, on bulletin boards, in business communications and e-mails. I LOVE it when people share my cartoons —- but there is a RIGHT (legal) way to share and a WRONG (illegal) way to share cartoons.
What’s the easiest legal way to share a cartoon? Just click the social media buttons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google + and others. You’ll find them on most web pages, including mine. Those buttons are an invitation to click and share with the link automatically leading back to the original source.
What’s the wrong way to share a cartoon? It is illegal to steal or “borrow” a cartoon from any source, including Google Images, to display or publish in any form of print or digital media, including social media, publications, presentations, websites, blogs and tweets. For this type of usage, you must first obtain permission from the person who created the work. It’s easy to send an e-mail request and most creators will be happy to hear from you.
According to an article in Training Magazine, the best way to keep the copyright cops from knocking at your door is “Always assume that any pre-existing work you’d like to use is copyrighted work and that it requires permission from the copyright owner to use or copy.”
If you infringe on someone’s copyright, you may be liable for legal fees and fines up to $50,000 per violation. Stealing a cartoon off the internet to use in a Powerpoint presentation, website or newsletter without permission is a punishable crime. Subjecting your employer to legal hassles over copyrights may also cost you your job. Frankly, it’s much cheaper to pay a modest permission fee to the person who created the work and owns the copyright.
Here are a few excellent articles that I think you will find helpful and informative:
- The Quick and Dirty Guide to Copyright Rules
- 10 Copyright Myths Explained
- Frequently Asked Questions About Copyright
- Copyright Infringement Defined
- Legal Lesson Learned: Copywriter Pays $4,000 for $10 Photo
- Common Workplace Activities Can Cause Copyright Problems
Copyright permission is easy and affordable. All you need to do is ask.