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Can I get in trouble with copyright infringement law if I use freely available images from the internet, including copyrighted ones, for a hobby group's social media page?

Copyright law protection applies to original works of authorship, including images, as soon as they are created and fixed in a tangible form.

Copyright infringement occurs when someone violates one of the exclusive rights of a copyright owner, such as reproducing, distributing, or displaying the copyrighted work without permission.

Online platforms, like Google and YouTube, have copyright policies and automated systems to detect and handle potential infringements, which can result in content removal or penalties.

The fair use doctrine allows limited use of copyrighted material without permission in certain circumstances, such as for criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.

Fair use is determined by considering four factors: the purpose and character of the use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substantiality of the portion used, and the effect of the use on the market for the original work.

Images from the internet, including those that appear to be "free," can have hidden restrictions based on how they're used, where they're shared, and the purpose of using them.

Some websites, like Unsplash, Pexels, Flickr, and Pixabay, offer free-to-use images under Creative Commons or similar licenses, but it's crucial to read and understand the terms and conditions of each license.

Reverse image search tools, such as Google Images' camera icon, can help identify the original source of an image, making it easier to verify rights and obtain permission when necessary.

When in doubt about the copyright status of an image, it's best to contact the website's owner or copyright holder to ask for permission or seek guidance.

Copyright laws and best practices for using images online vary by country; educate yourself on the specific laws and regulations applicable to your situation.

Ignorance of copyright law is not a valid defense against copyright infringement claims; it's essential to take proactive steps to understand and comply with the law.

Copyright infringement can result in legal consequences, including fines, lawsuits, and damage to your reputation.

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