Jacksonville, FL asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Georgia

Q: I'm researching a small business idea. How can I protect myself from copyright infringement liability?

My business idea is basicaly a service to make advertising more accessible to solo artists/makers.

I would write a Facebook post scheduling app. Then erect a website where solo artists/makers can purchase a campaign. A campaign would consist of a series of scheduled posts and possibly email marketing. A post would be a Facebook Link Preview that points to the solo artist/maker's own website. My website may also display a link preview as well. Before launching a campaign, I would generate a unique identifier and have the artist add this identifier to their website's source code. My server app would then load the artist's website into memory and look for this identifier. The idea being that this would prove that the artist owns the website and its art, as a prerequisite to setting up a campaign.

But what if an artist puts an image on their website that they don't own and then they create a campaign using my website? What would be my liability and how could I protect myself?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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A: To mitigate the risk of copyright infringement liability in your business, it's essential to implement clear policies and procedures. First, establish a terms of service agreement for your users, clearly stating that they must own or have the right to use all content they include in their campaigns. This agreement should also clarify that responsibility for copyright compliance lies with the artist or maker using your service.

Incorporate a system where users must affirmatively acknowledge and agree that they have the necessary rights to all content they use. This could be part of the campaign setup process. Also, consider including a disclaimer in your terms of service that your platform is not responsible for verifying the copyright status of the content provided by users.

Implementing a mechanism to report and remove infringing content promptly upon notification is also crucial. This aligns with the provisions of the DMCA in the U.S., which offers a safe harbor for service providers who respond appropriately to notices of infringement.

Lastly, it may be beneficial to seek legal counsel to draft these documents and advise on specific compliance strategies. This ensures that your policies are robust and tailored to the unique aspects of your business model. While these steps cannot guarantee complete protection from liability, they significantly reduce the risk and demonstrate a good faith effort to comply with copyright laws.

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