Help - album artwork on music review blog

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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gd85
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Help - album artwork on music review blog

Post by gd85 » Mon Oct 17, 2016 8:34 pm

Hi guys,

Came across this site whilst looking for some guidance. Basically, I want to start a music blog where I review albums and compile my favourite albums of the year. Obviously it would look a lot better if I could use an image of the album cover with the title at the top of each review.

I've had a look around and can't find a clear answer to this. I read things about 'fair dealing' but can't work out if this applies.

Is there any way for me to use album artwork in my reviews on the blog or is it a no-go? If I can use them, is there a better way to get them besides Googling the album name and downloading an image of the cover from one of the results?

Hoping I can use an image of the album I'm reviewing, but if I can't I'll have to think of something to liven up the blog or make it interesting - all copy is dull!

Thanks in advance.

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:28 am

Hi gd85

You are on the right track when you mention fair dealing. The exception for the purposes of criticism or review would allow you to use a copy of an album cover alongside an article which reviews the music contained in the album. The 'fair' part of fair dealing really means that you should use no more than is necessary, so a smallish thumbnail image should be fine, as you would be using it to assist the reader in identifying the album in question, since most people will relate more readily to a graphic rather than just the album title. Just remember to credit the artwork, the copyright for which will be owned by the record company, not the artist or band.

If you wanted to be super-cautious you could ask the record companies for permission, but I don't think this is necessary, as the practice is widely used in journalism generally, and on streaming/download sites etc for pretty much the same reason as you want to use the album artwork.
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gd85
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Post by gd85 » Tue Oct 18, 2016 5:49 pm

Thanks Andy, that's really helpful!

Just some questions on that, if you're able to answer them:

-Is there a guide size to go for? E.g. 200 x 200. I assume anything that's not full-size or hi-res is OK.

-Is there a proper way to credit the record company? I'll get the images from Google but does the name of the record company go underneath the image in small copy or anywhere on the page? Is there a need for 'Copyright' or a logo?

-Finally, I may decide to embed the album from Spotify so visitors can listen to it. Spotify provide code to do this and it shows the album artwork. Since they're a huge company with the most popular music streaming service, I'm assuming this is OK? They provide info online of how to do it.

Thanks again.

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Post by AndyJ » Tue Oct 18, 2016 9:31 pm

Hi gd85

Unfortunately there's no specific guidance on the size, but I think your suggestion of 'not full-size or hi-res' is a reasonable yardstick. The main principle is that you are not seeking to undermine the economic value of the original, hence my reference to thumbnail.

Something I didn't mention in my earlier posting is that if you don't actually host the image on your server (ie the one hosting your reviews) but merely link to an image legally hosted elsewhere, then some recent judgments from the Court of Justice of the European Union (such as a case known as GS Media), have declared that this is not infringing, because you have not actually made a copy of the work, merely provided a link so that the viewer's browser obtains the image directly from the source where it is legally held. This can be done by framing or deep linking or similar techniques, as long as they don't circumvent paywalls or other access controls. That then avoids all the business of providing a credit which is required by fair dealing.

However if you would prefer to use the fair dealing exception, then the usual sort of credit would be the name of the author of the work concerned. Where the author's name is unavailable, the name of the owner of the copyright should be used. There is no legal requirement for a copyright symbol or other information. However it certainly would not do any harm to include a brief statement like "Album cover © Old Dog Records 2015" as this more than complies with the requirement and reinforces the fact that you acknowledge their copyright. If you know the name of the artist responsible for the artwork, by all means mention him or her also. The credit should be sufficiently close to the image that the viewer doesn't have to hunt for it, especially where several images are included on the same page.

And yes, Spotify was exactly the sort of service I was referring to in my earlier posting. Using their service means that you would not need to host the image and thus you would not be infringing any copyright. The only time this method could cause problems is where you are reasonably sure that the streaming site is unlikely to be licensed to provide either the music or the album covers, in which case you should avoid using any of their content and you won't be liable for inadvertent infringement.
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Post by CopyrightAid » Wed Oct 19, 2016 7:14 am

I would be cautious about deep linking images on other peoples' sites. Most webmasters view this as stealing bandwidth (i.e. their bandwidth for the image is being used to enhance your site without any benefit to the site that actually hosts the image - costing them bandwidth for nothing in return).

As a basic rule though, it is considered bad netiquette to 'deep link' to images on other people's sites and... as they control the hosting they can move/remove an image without your knowledge. Also with a bit of web-server configuration, it is possible block access, or redirect external image request to a specific image; I remember seeing a site a few years back where half the images on it stated "the owner of this site is a bandwidth thief" (or words to that effect), [do a Google image search for "Bandwidth Thief" and you will get the idea].

Personally, I would go with the low-res thumbnail and a copyright statement option.

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Post by AndyJ » Wed Oct 19, 2016 7:34 pm

Good point CA! I was only looking at the issue from a legal standpoint, and I agree that netiquette would tend to frown upon such practices as deep linking and bandwidth theft. However, clearly sites like Spotify are more than happy to provide the embedding facilities if it drives more users to their site.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

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