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Who takes the fall for media copyright claims in your organization?

New technology allows creative communities to crack down on licensing violations across the internet and stop the use of unlicensed images across content. But what do professionals really know about licensing agreements?
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

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Content licensing agreements touch every corner of the creative industry and are designed to mandate what advertisers, marketers, writers, and other creatives can and cannot do with online content.

Unfortunately, the majority of creative professionals do not know what their rights are or are not when it comes to the content they work with every day.

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A new study from Arlington, Va.-based digital media company for content creators Storyblocks shows that, despite the importance and legal implications of these licensing agreements, we are not confident in our licensing agreement knowledge.

It surveyed 581 creative digital media professionals ask what creatives do and do not know about content licensing agreements. Survey findings reveal that most creatives are not confident in their knowledge of the licensing agreements they work with.

Almost half (41 percent) of creative professionals admit to not reading their stock media provider's content licensing agreement. Respondents found them too complex, and said that they leave employees more confused by their rights than before they had read them.

Over half (56 percent) of creatives say they only understand stock media licensing enough to stay out of trouble. The large majority are still ill-informed about licensing terms that could lead to major legal implications.

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They say they want to see plain language and easy-to-understand licensing so they will not gloss over key points.

Only one in five (20 percent) of creatives believe they could be held personally liable if a copyright claim is made against a project they produced.

Creatives are also unclear about who takes the fall for copyright claims. Over three quarters (76.5 percent) of creatives do not understand the concept of indemnity as it applies to stock media providers.

This means that they do not understand the legal or monetary guarantee they are being offered by many paid (but not free) stock media sources. They do not think that they are individually responsible if an agreement is broken.

Less than half (46 percent) believe that their stock media provider will partially or fully cover damages.

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Storyblocks also found that almost a third (31 percent) of their customers thought they had permission to use the stock they had downloaded in a way that their licensing agreement did not support.

Conversely, a third of their customers believed the terms of their licensing agreement were actually more restrictive than intended. A full third (33 percent) of its customers indicated that permissions explicitly given in their SLA were actually not allowed.

TJ Leonard, CEO of Storyblocks, said:

"While licensing agreements may not seem exciting to creatives, they are there to protect the creative community and its amazing creations.

We want to supply creators with stock media that will help them elevate their final products, but we also want to be sure that we're taking care of those who contribute to our media libraries.

Over 75 percent of our customers didn't realize we've got their back (monetarily) if they get in trouble for using the content we've provided."

If licensing agreements were drafted with plain, easily digestible language, creatives would likely spend more time learning about content rights.

Until more companies make image licensing simple, the need for rich images for our online content will mean licensing violation numbers will continue to grow.

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