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Take Care Before Posting That Photo, Attorney Advises


We are confident that Franchise Times owns the copyright on this photo of Beth Ewen.

Josh Stokes

“When it comes to copyright law there is a profound amount of ignorance,” declared Mark Anfinson, a media law attorney in the Twin Cities in a talk last week before magazine editors and writers. Anyone who posts or publishes content—in other words, just about everyone, whether on Twitter or LinkedIn or Instagram or the like—should pay attention to his advice.

“People believe if something’s on the internet it’s free. You have a lot of amateurs doing their own websites—and don’t even get into the amount of copyright infringement that Facebook has. You couldn’t quantify it, could you?” he said. “It’s a big problem.”

Photos in particular are infringed upon regularly, and the rise of the trolls raises the stakes of such misuse.

“We’ve had the appearance of these copyright trolls, who are attorneys who troll the web to find copyright violators,” Anfinson said. “It’s astonishingly easy to do that if you have the right software. And once they find even very minor copyright violations they will write a letter to offenders, and they will say you owe $5,000 to $15,000 or they will file a claim in federal court.”

What should people do if they get such a letter? “You usually pay. You’re not quite sure the poker game is a bluff. That sharpens the risk here,” he said, adding there is a way to avoid such mistakes. “What is the antidote here? Knowledge.”

Anfinson says to read the fine print on photos posted on “Creative Commons” sites, where photos can seem to be free for the using. Often times, there will be stipulations, such as requiring a photographer’s credit or forbidding a commercial rather than editorial use.

Anfinson was one of many speakers at the Minnesota Magazine & Publishing Association’s Summit & Expo 2017 on April 26. 

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About This Blog

The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is senior editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is editor-in-chief of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is managing editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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