Social media is the most important platform for brands to communicate with their potential customers, especially millenniums and Gen Z kids. Both large and small businesses plan digital marketing strategies to showcase their online presence, but do you know that if you post copyrighted content from other sources as your creation, it can put your business into major legal risks under intellectual property rights.
With the growth of social media, it has become difficult to figure out what comes under copyright violation, and what is free to use. There are many rules and regulations that you should follow in order to reduce the risk of committing copyright infringement.
Social Sharing and Copyright: What Brands Can’t Use on Social Media?
“The right to be attributed as an author of a work is not merely a copyright, it is every author’s basic human right.”
(Kalyan C. Kankanala)
Everything that is available online belongs to its creator. The moment you post a downloaded image on your website or social media, you’re committing a crime. Copyrighted content includes images, videos, illustrations, music, and written texts: blog posts, articles, quotes, etc. Copyright protects the right of the creator, and nobody can claim it as their own without permission. You can’t just publish a copyrighted image or user-generated content on your brand’s social media profile without acknowledging the creator or paying for the rights and use it in the name of fair use.
What Brands Can Use On Social Media?
Sharing images in the social world is the prime way to attract consumers. A great number of photos are shared online every day, every minute. As we believe sharing is caring, in the social world, sharing is not caring, it can be harmful too. Although you cannot use a licensed content, there are sites that can help you get your desired image or music to your benefit.
Let’s have a look at different types of content that you can download and publish on social media:
1. Free Stock Images:
If you want to use existing pictures from the internet without having trouble with copyright violation, then Free-Stock images can be a good choice. These images are absolutely free and can be used however you want. Pexels, Unsplash are some of the sites where you can find free stock photos to use for your brand.
- While sharing, ensure whether the images can be used for commercial purposes.
- Give credits to the website from where you have downloaded the image. e.g.: Source: Pexels.
2. Paid Stock Images:
If you use paid stock images, you can choose the type of license you want for using the image. Websites such as Shutterstock, DepositPhotos will offer you plenty of paid images for your brands. It comes with different licenses; the license for personal use is generally less expensive than the one for commercial use. Decide the main purpose of the image and choose what license you need. Always check the license guidelines before purchasing an image. When in doubt, you can also reach their help desk, and ask for licensing queries.
3. Sharing Music on Social Media:
Simply put, you can’t use licensed music for your brand’s social handles. You might have come across instances when popular figures have been sued for violating copyright in their videos. A prime example can be YouTube sensation Michelle Phan, a beauty vlogger who was sued for copyright infringement over the background music in her videos.
So, how will you put music in your videos? Well, the first step is to take permission to use recorded music in your videos for commercial purposes. You need to own a license of the intellectual property to use it. Also, there is another way you can put music to your videos is through Instagram. Instagram has a library of popular music that you can add to your content.
License-free music is also available online which you can use as background music to your ad video. Look for them in the search engine and find one that best fits your purpose.
4. Sharing Excerpts from Other Authors:
There are write-ups you wish you could use on your website or social media. Can you do that? Yes, you definitely can. All you need to do is to give the author proper attribution. When you share someone else’s content, make sure you share your perspective too regarding the excerpt. You can place a quote from a famous business owner for your campaign, but make sure you acknowledge the author well on social media. If possible, tag the person or brand.
5. Sharing Images from Other Brands:
Although sharing images is not new, but for professional use, it is required to follow certain rules before publishing. Often considered as a cross-promotion, brands often publish each other’s content on their social media profile. Seek permission and state the purpose before use. Always give photo credit and tag the brand in the actual image.
Social Sharing and Copyright: Things to Keep in Mind
While posting any content on social media spare some time to cross-check whether it is legal or no. It is always advisable to ‘ask’ than saying sorry after making a mistake. Various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. have their own copyright policy. To avoid copyright infringement, make sure you are aware of the policy and know what content and how to use them on social media. However, the ideal way to avoid any lawsuit or legal issue is to prefer original content created by you or your creative team.
Keep these tips in mind while creating your social media calendar for your business.