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What Dentists Need to Know about Copyright, Trademarks on Dental Websites

December 5th, 2008 · No Comments

dental website designIf you have a dental website or blog, you are responsible and will be held legally accountable for copyright or trademark infringement on your site. You need to know the basics to keep yourself out of trouble. Problem is, the Internet is a relatively new medium. “When it comes to trademark use on the Internet, the law is muddled,” according to an article in (November2008). Everyone is learning by trial and error. Some things are black and white, though. If you don’t want to receive a faxed invoice for illegal usage of an image on your website, you need to be informed.

The repercussions of posting content that’s not your own or misusing trademarks can involve thousands upon thousands of dollars in fines – or even jail time. On top of this, dentists need to understand the marketing guidelines set by their state board, or they could compromise their dental license, as well.

To play it safe with your dental website:

  • Don’t post words or pictures you took from other websites unless a) you have explicit permission from the copyright owner or b) the website states that you can use the content or photos with appropriate credit given to the source. Even better, create your own pictures (with a digital camera), and write, or hire a copywriter to write, original content for your website. Unique content is better for search engine optimization, anyway, so the benefits are twofold.
  • Don’t scan pictures or articles from magazines and use them on your site without permission. If you are in a photo or featured in an article, be sure to obtain the copyright owner’s permission to use the content on your website. This means that you should contact the publication or author for permission to use the information on your site. You need to have one-time rights for Internet use. As an alternative, you can post a link to the main page of the website on which the content is posted.
  • Don’t claim to do something you don’t really do. If you like the philosophy behind big-name whitening and veneer products, but you don’t offer them, don’t say that you do. Likewise, consult with your SEO team before optimizing your website for trademarked terms.
  • If your photo gallery has pictures of real patients, obtain each patient’s written permission to use the photos on your website.
  • Check with your state’s dental board for marketing guidelines, then follow them. Most states comply with ADA guidelines for dental marketing, which prohibit comparing yourself to other providers, using statements of superiority, and claiming predictable results.

To learn more about legal usage of photos and content for your website, contact TNTDental, the leader in custom dental website design, hosting, and search engine optimization. The experts at TNT will be happy to help you develop an original website that accomplishes your marketing goals and accurately portrays your unique dental practice. Visit TNTDental online here.

Tags: Dental Websites · Websites & Internet