What Are Your Graphic Rights?

During a webinar call this week I was totally shocked at how little seasoned professionals knew about using the graphics found on the Internet.

Many years ago I had the unfortunate experience of having a personal photograph, that only appeared in a mock-up business brochure (not originally on the Internet) scanned and used on another person's website to promote their brand of hair replacement. At that point I was not prepared to appear "on the Internet" without my hair - not even on my own website.

During a trade show I was sharing the brochure with an associate and did not realize the woman in the booth behind us was looking on. I returned it to my brief case, stashed the brief case under the table, like everyone does at trade shows and continued to work my booth. Someone from her booth had to have crawled under the dividing curtain and under the tables to retrieve the brief case, remove the brochure and then return the briefcase (lesson learned there). I felt totally violated by them.

It took several attempts to have my photo removed from their website. They finally removed the photo when my attorney pointed out that they would have had to go to great lengths to get their hands on the brochure, the fact that they had taken the brochure from a trade show, scanned the photo and then put it on their site was nothing but a blatant and calculated intent on their part.

Silly me, I should have played my cards better - it was and still is a huge company. I could be retired and living a life of luxury on a beach somewhere.

If you are not clear on the subject of your graphic rights, it is time to educate yourself about what you can and cannot do. It could save you a lot of embarrassment, not to mention an expensive lawsuit in the long run.

One person on the call actually thought that all the Google Images that come up under the Google Image Search were free to use any time and place they wanted.

Another person commented on how some websites had great graphics, that were obviously royalty free images (does not mean anyone can use them any time or place). They went on to comment on how they would click on the image to see which photo service the image was from and then go to that website and, purchase the same graphic. Now there is a person who knows how to follow the rules when it comes to their graphic rights.

There are lots of royalty-free image and graphic sites to choose from. Simply type "royalty-free image and graphics" into a search box and you will see several to choose from.

I use iStock Photo for most the graphics I use on my websites. I am also lucky in that several of my vendors have wonderful graphics of their products, which I can use free of charge. For cute cartoons and graphics I use http://Microsoft.com a lot. It is amazing what you can find there.

When it comes to graphics, Pinterest.com seems to be the major point of conversation at the moment. Type Pinterest graphics and legal issues into Google Search and you will be rewarded with a months' worth of reading material. A lot of the mechanics of Pinterest Pinning are still up in the air. Re-pinning is NOT an issue, but never takes a pinned or re-pinned graphic (that you do not own the rights to) and post it to your website without the written permission of the original owner of the graphic.

Be aware that ALL movie companies, celebrities and big brand companies have huge legal departments cruising the Internet all day long looking for copyright violations of their brands. They will be contacting you if they find one on your website. They do not care how small or large your company may be, a violation is a violation.

This brings us to one more thing you should know? Make sure that any people you have working for you on your website project or the people you outsource such work to, understand copyright and brand infringement. It is you that will be held responsible for their ignorance or lapse in judgment.

5 Tips To Writing Your First Song

It can be very daunting to write your first song so here are some tips to help you do just that.

This is not intended to be an article about how professional songwriters do it. It is here to inspire you to have a go.

1. Choose a subject you are passionate about.

As an example I deliver Socks and Chocolates (and sleeping bags for that matter) to the homeless in The West Midlands, UK. I am passionate about the plight of the homeless as I read somewhere that 70% of the homeless in GB are ex-servicement. This is appalling! So I decide to write a song about it.

Your song is unlikely to become the next "Angels" by Robbie so you must be content at enjoying the writing process.

2. Play around with your instrument of choice - Mine is a guitar.

You need to play around with some chords. To do this, have a listen to lots of different songs and see which ones resonate well with you. You can then consider the style of the song you wish to create. It is fine to imitate your heroes but please do not copy them. You are your own artist.

3. Choose your chord progression.

Do not worry about if it is "in key" perfectly. Plenty of famous songs fall outside the true key chords. Use what works for you.

Hum your melody over the chord progression to decide what sounds good. Here you want to make a note of the chords you are using and what rhythm you will want to use.

4. Write down your first attempt at the words.

Do not try to make them scan straight away. Play with the words over the chords using your melody and see how it fits. Then put away your efforts for at least 24 hours to get the creative juices flowing again and your unconscious mind working.

Repeat this process until you are happy with both the words and the scanning.

5. Go for it. Record yourself and expose your song to the world. You can publish on You Tube or sing at an open mic night. Either way, give it a go. Please remember though that you are really writing for you.

In addition you will need to be persistent. It is almost a given that you will write some very poor songs. All of us do. It is too easy to give up on your first effort. Keep at it and one day, who knows, you might nail that number 1 hit!