Something interesting happened today, I was contacted by a past real estate client today that the images I used on his website were being used illegally! I, of course, did not use any photos for his website or any other clients website illegally. As a real estate virtual assistant I know better than that and I responded to him that any photo that I personally used on his website were purchased through www.istockphotos.com and I have receipts to verify this and was happy to produce them at a given moment to anyone challenging this fact.
Since I started my company in 1999, as a real estate virtual assistant, I knew right away to always buy your photos or at least get permission from the photographer, not the person who has the photo, but the person who took the photo. This is important because if you get permission from anyone other than the original owner this does not mean anything in court. So always go to the source for permission.
It took me a matter of 5 minutes to open my archives on past clients, pull his folder and review the photos and review the invoice with the photo. I then told the client if anyone was challenging him on this have them contact me to resolve this situation.
In a matter of minutes this problem was resolved, so lesson here people, get a receipt and save it where you can find it. This was a project I worked on over 3 years ago. The IRS says they can legally request your past 7 years of tax returns, but if you need to prove you have the right to use an image, an article, etc. make sure you keep very good records on everything you purchase.
My personal opinion of the online photo company is they are bullies and they are looking for ways to take your money. I researched this company only to find out that they are notorious for sending these emails, but when challenged they back-off. So, don’t panic if you get this type of letter, just make sure you can prove it and if not make them prove you do not have the rights. Don’t just send them money, make them prove it to you.
And, be careful in the way you use images from Google Images, Flickr, etc. Check to see if the image or photos are copyrighted and if you do find a photo on the Internet ask them where they got the photo and then get permission.
This also goes for articles. Do not take an article without written permission from the author and when you have permission make sure you link back to them for credit.
We all can play nice in the sandbox, just know the rules.