Eye on the Internet: AudhumbLa's Docent Blog
Using Images from or on the Internet
The use of image — custom graphics, clip art, photography, and illustration — creates
the most confusion over copyright. When is an image open and reusable,
versus when is it protected? Audy has a few simple rules with
regard to downloading and using images found on the Internet. If you want
more information about
Be sure of the facts. If you find an image you
want to re-use, check the copyright. Go to the web site where the image
actually is — not just the image search results — and check for copyright
restrictions. These can be co-located with the image in alt tags or adjacent
text, elsewhere on the page, or on a copyright page. A separate copyright
page must have a link to it from someplace on the page where the image
R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Forget the convenience of
grabbing an image and running. Show others the respect for their business
that you would expect for yours. If the image's owner says reuse prohibited
or request permission for reuse, listen up.
Use common sense. If the image is to be part
of your brand or a promotional campaign, make sure you have rights to its
use. In fact, you should consider original artwork as you want your brand to
be unique. And if you've paid for work for hire, make sure you actually own
the work — you don't want to have to pay the vendor for reuse.
Remember — If no rules exist for an image's use,
it's fair game. Though a word to the wise — if you plan on using the
image as a critical component of your business, you might want to e-mail the
webmaster of the site where the image was found, asking for approval of its
reuse. Better safe than sorry.
Protect yourself and your business assets as
well. Regardless of whether your business asset is an image, a
message, an implementation or approach or the results of the
product/service provided, it needs to be protected.
If you think there's a value to an image, a
message or an approach, and you post it on-line, include the appropriate
legal statements. Be specific as to the terms of that asset's use, and
the rights (if any) granted by its posting. It doesn't need to be
written by lawyers or all-encompassing, it just needs to be clear and present.
If you're not sure about the definitions of copyrights, trademarkets, patents and the
various classes of imagery, Click here.
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Systematic Message Platforms
Ever walk into a crowded room? One where everybody
is talking at once? If you're not careful, your web site can be just like
that crowded room — full of noise, different voices, and oft-conflicting
stories. Each and every page of your web site — press releases and other
news, product information, general background, newsletter archives, and so
on — can be accessed one right after the other (or even all at once). Each
page, and the messages it contains, needs to be consistent, if not
harmonious, with the other pages on your site.
Sounds simple, but 3 frequently-made mistakes prevent
many message platforms from being systematic:
No leadership, a.k.a., "too many cooks" syndrome.
Because your web site reflects your entire
company, it's a common beginner's mistake to draft your messages by
committee. Bad, bad, bad. Your messages need to be consistent and
clear. Otherwise, they're just noise. So, assign someone control over
what you say about all communications, and then make sure that they're
involved with your web site.
Spontaneity, a.k.a., "ready, fire, aim" syndrome.
You just don't have the time to worry about
everything; just get that one change published. Nice in theory, poor in
practice — your customers don't have time to waste but they do have time
to research. They'll find that inconsistency you've ignored, and
they'll remember that about you. Your webmaster is ultimately
responsible for your site's clarity and consistency. Make sure that
maintaining these is part of their job. Empower them with ability to
say "NO" to underdeveloped messages, and listen to them when they spot
Myopia, a.k.a., "product silo" syndrome.
The bigger or more diversified a company gets,
the greater the tendency to build a web site in "silos". Each silo
represents one particular product area, department, location, whatever.
To keep web site contents fresh, each silo owner manages their own
information, including messages. They know their piece of the business,
but may not know much else. And it's rare if they worry about if their
pieces make sense and look professional when combined with the rest of
the business. Your Communications or Marketing executive should have
ultimate say in knocking down silos or getting them to operate in
Remember, bad customer impressions thrive in the
absence of a systematic message platform. You've seen it before.
Off-the-cuff remarks resulting in negative impressions that last. Press
releases that sound fine by themselves but raise questions when earlier
statements are considered. And the general perception that a company is
leaderless and in disarray, or that "the right hand doesn't know what the
left hand is doing". Once it's on-line, your message platform will be
scrutinized. Do your messages hold up under this scrutiny? If not, read
Abullard's advice on how do develop a system for brand management.
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