How To Create Marketing Materials Without Engaging In Copyright Infringement

If you own a medium or large sized business and you want to start marketing your goods and services on a national scale, then there are many things you need to do to come up with a good marketing strategy. Part of the strategy will likely involve the use of images, graphics, and music to draw customers to your business. When you start working on your marketing materials, you need to make sure that you do not infringe on the copyrights or intellectual property rights of others. If you do, then you may find yourself facing a lawsuit. A corporate lawyer can help to keep lawsuits to a minimum, but you should also follow some of the tips below.

Consider Using the Creative Commons

If you do not have a staff of photographers, musicians, and graphic artists to assist you with your marketing materials, then you may look online to find imagery and music that you can use to create commercials and print advertisements. Unfortunately, most professionals hold copyright licenses that protect their work. This means that you cannot use the work without artist's permission. Some artists license their work under the Creative Commons though.

Searching for Work

The Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that allows creative professionals to license their work for public use. Every artist can set their own limitations on the use of their work though, and this means that you need to check the stipulations when choosing a photograph, video, or song that you intend on using for an advertisement. You can do this by searching the creative commons and indicating that you want to use the media for commercial purposes.

After you find the image or song that you want to use, consider contacting the artist to make sure that their work is still available for public use. If you intend on using the work for a wide range of purposes, then ask the artist to state that you are able to use their work. This will help to protect you if the individual decides to privately copyright their work in the future.

Contact Artists Directly

If you do not find artwork that you like on the Creative Commons or if you want to feature a specific song, photograph, or video in your marketing materials, then consider contacting the artist directly to ask if you can use the artwork. Send an email or call the artist and make sure to indicate how you intend on using the work. If you want to remix a song, edit a photograph, or cut up a video, then make sure to indicate this right away. Some artists may give you rights to a piece of work, but the work may need to be used as is. This means that any sort of editing or mixing will directly infringe on the artist's copyright license.

Draft a Contract

Once the artist allows you to use their work, ask your corporate lawyer to draft a contract that indicates this. The contract should include any stipulations that were set by the artist. Also, royalties for use should be included. Work with the artist to agree upon a one time fee or a royalty agreement.  

Typically, a royalty is a fee that you pay when a song or graphic is used, and you will need to pay the fee every time that a print advertisement is produced or a commercial is aired on television.  If you intend on using the artwork for several years or if your marketing campaign will be extensive, then royalties can cost you a great deal of money. Work with your attorney to figure out whether a one time fee or a royalty agreement is in your best interest.

Do Not Copy Others

If you decide that it is cheaper to hire musicians and artists to create the artwork that you need, then you can pay these individuals and retain the intellectual property of the work that was created for you. You may use photographs, songs, or other pieces of artwork as inspiration for your marketing materials. When you do this, you need to make sure that the inspiration pieces and the artwork created for you are significantly different from one another. 

A copyright infringement lawsuit can be brought against you if your new artwork is substantially similar to someone else's. In some cases, this may mean that you copied a specific photographic composition or a song melody. It can be incredibly difficult to figure out if your marketing materials are too similar to the inspiration pieces that you utilized. Speak with your corporate attorney to see what he or she thinks. You may need to make minor changes to songs, graphics, or photographs to protect yourself from future lawsuits.

If you want to start creating marketing materials for your business, then you will need to either make or use music, photographs, and graphics. Make sure that you do not infringe on copyrights when you do this.