The Cottage Industry You Need to Avoid!

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As the pandemic shut down businesses, home-based businesses (or cottage industries) opened in profusion. While most of these were wholesome, a few were wholesale scams. One example is that some lawyers cooped up at home started sending scads of copyright violation notices to small business owners who had used photos from Google Images on their websites or social media. The demand was for $700-800 per image! The scam? Often, these lawyers did not represent the photographer or have copyright to the images they were claiming to defend!

How can you protect yourself? Three options:

  1. Buy images from Shutterstock or a similar service. Save your receipts. If you get a demand letter, your receipts prove you have the right to use the image. 
  2. Take your own photos. If you do, add a watermark across the photo so that it is harder for a malcontent to use your photos. You may want to apply online for copyright at the U.S. Copyright Office. 
  3. Use a free stock image site such as When you are writing the content for your website or social media, copy and paste the image and its URL into your document. (You do not need to copy the URL into your website or social media post.)

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Kathy Bazan
As a graduate of UCLA with certifications in mentoring small and medium-sized businesses, Kathy Bazan has won state and federal awards for the positive economic impact she has made on her community. She has worked with business owners in hospitality, IT, construction, healthcare, the arts, accounting, consulting, and many others. Ms. Bazan prepares loan applications for clients, creates marketing plans, and teaches social media content writing so that clients can expand their operations. In six years, she helped clients gain access to over $16M in capital and create over 450 jobs.