Copyrights and Social Media

One of the greatest and cheapest sources of advertising is through social media content creation. You may post new content, or you may re-post or share someone else’s content. Isn’t sharing content basically copying someone else’s work? Doesn’t that mean you can be sued for copyright infringement? Can this issue be solved by tagging the original creator on the post? In this blog post, we’ll discuss some aspects of copyrights as they pertain to social media, and one way you can protect yourself against future copyright-related trouble.

First, copyright protections extend to a variety of mediums including photographs, artwork, writing, music, and film. Since copyright holders have the exclusive right to use their work, they are the only ones that can post their created content. If someone else wanted to use their content, they would have to obtain the original creator’s permission. Imagine a world where every time you wanted to post a clip of an Obama lecture, you would have to get permission from the former President himself, or at least his assistants or attorneys. That’s simply unrealistic and impractical. As such, the Fair Use Doctrine was created.

The Fair Use Doctrine is a defense to a copyright infringement claim and cases are decided on a case-by-case basis. This legal doctrine allows anyone other than the original producer of a work to reproduce portions of the work if it can be deemed “fair use.” Some purposes that have constituted fair use include purposes of criticism, scholarship, instruction, research, news reporting, and comment.  There are four factors judges use to determine whether your use of a copyrighted work constitutes fair use:

1.     Why the work was used

2.     The nature of the copyrighted work

3.     How much the copyrighted work was used in relation to the work as a whole; and

4.     Whether the use hurt the potential market for or value of the copyright

Ensure that you familiarize yourself with such laws and legal doctrines prior to posting anything that’s not 100% your own. Proactive research of this sort will save you thousands, if not millions, of dollars in the future.

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