Just because you see a picture online doesn’t mean it’s yours to use. No one would approve of you taking a painting from a gallery without paying. Photos, infographics and other creative products are intellectual property that belongs to those who developed them. Many medical practices rely on Catalyst Healthcare Marketing to acquire and manage photo rights and licensing agreements so that they do not risk heavy fines incurred by using someone’s work illegally.
Photographers, artists and designers create interesting images that convey unspoken messages. Students learn at a young age that they can’t plagiarize written words, but many people are less clear about how to use images they find online, like those on Google, which are usually copyrighted.
The most common violations involve photography. In the case of pictures, ownership belongs to the photographer. There are several considerations, depending on how that person is compensated.
Stock photography: Many photographers offer use of their images through a third-party licensing company, such as Getty Images or Corbis. These companies troll the internet, searching for and fining illegal users in order to protect their artists. These companies broker licenses for various purposes, including the following:
Paid photographer: Even if you hire photographers, they retain ownership of their work. You may negotiate for unlimited use, but you cannot share the image with another business or media source without first obtaining permission from the photographer
Staff photographer: If you or an employee takes a picture with your camera or with company-supplied equipment, then you own the image and can use or share it with others.
Patient-supplied photos: Be sure you have permission to use images that your patients provide. If the picture was taken by a professional photographer, then you need that person’s approval to use it. Medical practices should be especially careful to have written agreements on file before posting or using patient photos to the web to prevent HIPAA violations.