I will never forget the day I had, it was one of those really bad ones. It was raining, I was showing property and the steps were mildewed and wet and that's a bad combination. Thankfully it was me that fell and cracked a rib and not a client. A few hours later I went to read something and realized I must have also lost my glasses when I took that tumble on those steps. My husband went with me back to look for them.
When I pulled back into my parking spot when I got back to my office with my glasses on I felt a fury that I have rarely experienced. MY photo, my branding photo (and if you read my blog I bet you know what that photo is) was on the cover of a magazine with another brokerage's logo on it. If my blood pressure had been taken I feel sure it would have been at stroke level.
Long story short, it was published by a local newspaper who had to pony up some cash, but not only was it MY photo, I had registered the copyright prior to publication of said photo. Several years later that same photo--- you'd think people could take their own sunset photo was used on a menu in a local restaurant and the owner let me know he'd paid a local office supply place to do it for him. Well I walked in with my copyright registration and their legal department happily settled out of court.
The moral of this story is two fold. First, don't be on the end that might have to pony up some money or get a cease and desist letter. If it's not yours or you haven't paid for the right or gotten permission to use a photo or graph DON'T USE IT. The community guideline states:
Respect copyrights. Only upload content and images you have the right to use commercially.
It boils down to don't be a thief. That little message at the end before you post publishes where you are guaranteeing it's your original content or that you have permission to publish can cost you. Money and certainly your integrity.
My advice on this matter actually even goes beyond ActiveRain to anything you post on line. I recently saw someone who used a star wars image on a t-shirt to wear for their brokerage and I thought... hope no one reports you to Disney dude because they have some high paid attorneys that will own your behind. So just because you think you can ignore that cease and desist letter for using that community photo you snagged from another agent's site doesn't mean that tomorrow your site won't be shut down by a court order. And if that happens, it becomes public knowledge that you are a thief. Not so good for business.