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The use of images on the internet – beware of copyright infringement

When presenting products, creating blogs, as a preview of a video or as a post on social media – the use of images on the internet is commonplace. At the same time, the internet offers access to a wide range of media. As easy as it is to find the right image, the written warning with the accusation of copyright infringement lands in the letterbox just as quickly


What should be considered when using images on the Internet?

In Switzerland, all images and photographs are protected by copyright. Videos, texts and poems must also have an “individual character” in order for copyright protection to apply.

In addition to copyright protection for authors, the right to one’s own image in virtual space must also be observed. The latter aims to protect the personality. Everyone has the right to decide whether they want to be photographed and whether and how the image is published. Without the consent of the persons concerned, the images may only be used if there is an overriding personal or private interest in doing so.

How can I use images on the internet in a legally secure way?

The use of self-created images is unproblematic. The exception to this is screenshots, which are considered copies and are therefore subject to copyright protection. Images whose authors have waived their copyright or have died over the age of 71 can be used online with legal protection. Furthermore, authors can consent to the use of their images – this is often done by granting licences. It is important to ensure that the author is explicitly named.

Another option is to obtain images from online databases. Whether for a fee or free of charge, the images in the databases always come with conditions for use. These should be studied carefully. Caution is advised, especially in the case of time-limited licences. As a rule of thumb, images must always be published with a reference to the source, unless this is expressly waived in the conditions of use/licences.

You have received a warning? No need to panic.

A warning notice is merely an offer to settle an alleged copyright infringement out of court, usually against payment of damages. It is worth checking the legal situation and the possible course of action in each individual case. A reaction to the warning is always necessary. Often the matter can be settled with a complete renunciation of further use of the image with simultaneous submission of a cease-and-desist declaration (without obligation to pay).

Are you unsure what and how you are allowed to publish on your homepage/social media channel? Or have you already received a warning letter? Ylex will be happy to support you.

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