Frequently Asked Questions
Why did I get a notice from PicRights?
As we explained in our letter, you’ve used one or more images owned or represented by one of our clients. Our client can find no record of a license granted for your usage, so it appears that you’ve infringed our client’s copyright. Our client has instructed us to contact you to resolve the matter. Learn more
Is the problem solved if I remove the image?
No. While removing the image is a starting point and a condition of settlement, it doesn’t solve the problem. The use of copyrighted images requires proper licensing to cover any and all uses. Therefore, payment of a fee for the prior unauthorized use is required to resolve the matter completely.
Do I need to talk to a lawyer?
We’re providing information on this website as a general resource and it is not legal advice. We highly recommend you speak with a qualified lawyer if you have legal questions about the letter you got from us or about copyright in general. However, you’re not required to hire a lawyer in order to resolve a claim with one of our Compliance Officers.
What is a copyright?
Copyright is the exclusive right to reproduce, adapt, use, distribute and display an original work of authorship, such as a photograph. This right is protected by treaties and the laws of the United States.
For more information, see:
United States Copyright Office – Copyright Basics (PDF)
What if I hired someone to create my website?
It doesn’t matter if someone else who designed your website provided you with the image or whether you knew about our client’s rights in the work before using it. As the end user, you’re responsible for the content of your website and for paying the appropriate license fees. We won’t contact the designer to reach a settlement unless the designer agrees to take responsibility for the claim and has the means to do so. If you believe the designer is responsible, the onus is on you to contact the designer.
What if I bought the image as part of a design template?
As noted above, you’re ultimately responsible for ensuring that you have permission to use the image. If you purchased or acquired images from a subscription service or a website that provides templates, you’re still responsible for the claim if that company didn’t properly license the image to include your use.
What if I didn’t know that the image had to be licensed?
You are responsible even if you accidentally infringed someone’s copyright or didn’t know the image was copyright-protected and needed a license. Your lack of knowledge doesn’t excuse or dismiss your unauthorized use, nor does it waive the fees you need to pay for your unlicensed use of the image.
What if I found the image on the internet and there was no copyright notice or watermark?
The lack of a copyright notice or watermark doesn’t mean that the work in question has lost its copyright protection. An image is protected by copyright from the moment it’s created – whether published or not, whether registered or not, and whether or not a copyright notice or watermark accompanies it.
Aren’t images on the Internet in the public domain?
Just because an image is on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s in the public domain. The term “public domain” is limited to works in which copyright has expired (in the United States, generally 70 years after the death of the author) or where the copyright owner has made a clear declaration that the work is not subject to copyright.
What if I found the image through a search engine, like Google?
Simply because an image can be found on the Internet through a search engine such as Google does not mean that the image does not have copyright protection. Search engines like Google show images located on third-party sites, but they are not providing any suggestion that those images are in the public domain. For example, if you do a search on Google Images and click on an image, the notice “Images may be subject to copyright” appears below the image.
Anyone searching the Internet for images for any media should always assume that the images are copyrighted and may not be used in any context until they have confirmed otherwise. It is the end user’s obligation and responsibility to ensure that they are not infringing on the copyright of any party prior to publishing any image in any medium.
Does Copyright need to be registered to be lawful?
No. Copyright in original works of authorship is automatic, and registration – while it does carry certain benefits to the copyright owner in the United States – is not required for a work to be protected by copyright. Protection attaches immediately when the work is completed which, in the case of a photograph, happens the moment the shutter is clicked.
What if I didn’t make any money from the image?
Making money from the use of an image is irrelevant when determining whether the use was an infringement. While making money from the use of the image may increase the amount of damages, it’s not required in order for our client to be entitled to fees for the unauthorized use of their work.
Are non-profit organizations and charities exempt from copyright?
No. A non-profit organization or charity has to follow the same copyright laws as everyone else. However, PicRights is sensitive to non-profit organizations’ circumstances. In order for us to further review the matter, we generally require formal documentation (e.g. IRS determination letter for the U.S.) to support a reduction of the assessed fee.
To be clear, a payment will still be required to resolve your matter.
How are fees calculated for use of copyrighted images?
Fees to use copyrighted images vary greatly depending on whether the image is rights-managed (RM) or royalty-free (RF).
What’s the difference between Rights-Managed (RM) and Royalty-Free (RF) images?
First of all, whether an image is licensed as RM or RF is entirely up to the copyright owner.
RM images are licensed for fees based on how the image will be used. Factors include the media in which an image appears, duration of use, territory of publication, quantity of reproductions, size and prominence of the image in the final use (e.g. whether on the home page or secondary page of a website) and whether or not any exclusivity is granted to the end user. The prices can range greatly based on the scope of the rights granted – even for the same image. Essentially, the more you do with an RM image the higher the price. Fees for RM images are, on average, considerably higher than for RF images.
RF images are generally priced based on the file size of the image used. Rights granted are usually very broad, allowing uses in unlimited applications for an unlimited period at a fixed fee. Some licensing restrictions usually apply. There are broad price differences between different collections of RF images and many collections are available at very low prices which makes them advantageous to users with low budgets for imagery. PicRights does not represent any collections of RF images.
PicRights only represents RM images – we do not represent any collections of RF images.