Why Copyright Law Means Sometimes Agencies Say 'No'

...and then try to help in another way.

As with many service industries, marketing and web design agencies want to do the best for their clients, often going the extra mile to ensure complete satisfaction. Very rarely, however, it might not be possible to meet a client's immediate wishes, and when that happens it might be to do with copyright law.

It's not surprising, after all, who has time to become an expert at copyright law when your main business might be, plumbing, construction, cleaning services or transport? Copyright law in the UK applies to us all, whether we know the details of how it works or not.

So what is copyright law?

Copyright law serves to protect the intellectual property rights of creators and artists, or those to whom copyright is transferred as part of a contract, ensuring that their original works are safeguarded from unauthorized use or reproduction. When individuals use an image from the internet, reuse designs, or duplicate existing text without permission, they risk infringing on these copyright laws.

In the UK, copyright automatically applies to original works, such as images, designs, and text, once they are created and fixed in a tangible form. This means that the creator holds the exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, and display their work, unless they transfer these rights to another as part of a contract. Without obtaining permission from the creator or the rightful copyright owner, using such works without authorization constitutes copyright infringement.

Can you use this image from here, and this text from here?

Unless you own the copyright, or can get permission in writing, or a license, from the copyright holder then probably not. When individuals use images found on the internet without proper licensing and attribution, they run the risk of violating the creator's copyright. Similarly, reusing designs or text that are already in existence without permission can lead to legal consequences. Copyright infringement can result in legal action, including demands for removal of the infringing material, payment of damages, or even facing a lawsuit.

It is essential to respect copyright laws and understand the implications of using copyrighted material without permission. By doing so, individuals not only uphold the rights of creators but also protect themselves from potential legal issues.

So what can I do instead (because I really liked that thing I found)?

To avoid copyright infringement, it is advisable to seek permission or licensing from the copyright owner before using their work, or to use materials that are explicitly labeled for free and unrestricted use, or to have a new design produced that is unique to you. Any decent agency will be able to explain all of this to you and develop an alternative design that's just as good or better, and which doesn't put you (or them) on the wrong side of the law.


Understanding and adhering to UK copyright law is crucial in maintaining ethical standards and legal compliance in creative endeavors. By respecting the rights of creators and obtaining proper authorization for the use of copyrighted material, individuals contribute to a fair and respectful creative environment while avoiding the risks and consequences associated with copyright infringement. Reputable agencies will help you achieve an outcome you're totally satisfied with, while avoiding potential pitfalls.


At DigitalArena we want you to succeed, and this can be achieved in several ways.

To find out more, please call us on 01530 452276 or email support@digitalarena.co.uk.

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