Make Sure You Copyright; Not CopyWRONG!

As an auto shop, we understand that you may have the desire to use brand-specific content and photos in your marketing to help drive the right target audience into your shop. This is especially true if your shop is brand-specific and only services certain makes and models. Because of this, we’ve compiled a list of four ways to avoid copyright infringement on your site!

1. Don’t Add Their Logo to Your Site

Vehicle brands are very specific about who is allowed to have their logo on their site. When legal teams look at who to send notices to, they look specifically for their logo and taglines. They can even ask you to change your logo or name if it contains any of their trademarks or looks too similar to their trademarks. This means it is very important only to add a make’s logo on your site if you have permission or a certification that allows you to. One example where you are allowed to use their logo is with Infiniti’s Certified Technician. If you’ve successfully completed any brand’s certification, you can proudly advertise that specific badge on your site.

2. Don’t Use Another Brand’s Tagline

Most brands often copyright their tagline along with their images. This is so common that Taylor Swift has even copyrighted several of her most common lyrics. An industry example is BMW’s “Ultimate Driving Machine”. When a brand copyrights their tagline, it means that you can not use it on your site or in your ads. This is especially important with our make specific shops, who would like to use their specialties terminology online. BMW makes this especially difficult as you can only mention their brand on your site in the form of an adjective. This means that you must use BMW to describe something else such as a “BMW Repairs”. This can be extremely limiting in your content.

3. You’re Limited in Your Photography Options

Luxury brands such as BMW, Mercedes, and Audi limit the availability of stock photography on the web. In fact, they will ask stock photography sites to label photos of their cars as “editorial”. This means that you can only use the photos in noncommercial settings. This can make it difficult to find quality photos of specific makes for your website. We get around those rules by using photos that our photographers have personally taken. If you’ve taken the photo, then you have rights to use it.

4. Don’t Pull Pictures From a Google Image Search

While Google is a great resource to finding images that best represent your ideas or what you’d like, do not download them and add them to your site. All images on the web are owned and copyrighted by someone. This has actually become such a big problem that there are tools that are specifically designed to help brands and individuals identify photo theft or content theft. In the worst case scenario, you could have to pay thousands in legal fees and fines for copyright violations. The best scenario is being asked to remove the images and having to find replacements.

These are a few key tips on how to avoid copyright infringement with other brands on the web! Always be careful when you are using terminology, photos, or ads that are not specifically owned by you, especially on your website or in your marketing strategy. Worried about your site? Take a look around your site. Are you using photos you pulled from the web for free? Do you have other companies’ logos? Do you have permission for the ones you do? Account Managers are great at spotting potential violations and will always warn you before adding anything to your site that could cause complications later on.

Written by Lacey Pierce

When I’m not trying to build something or scrubbing grease off my hands, I’m out having adventures. Whether that’s night kayaking, playing fetch with my cat Alice, or cracking open a new book, every day is an adventure in Wonderland.

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