When you share content on social media, do you stop to think about copyright? No, not many do. Social media and copyright is such a complex area that most people just turn a blind eye and look away. But at what cost?
Whatever your business, social media platforms provide a fantastic opportunity for you to share your work and ideas with a large and far reaching audience.
Chances are, you are already elbows deep in using social media, but do you really understand what you have gotten yourself into when you sign up to using social media? I mean, where does copyright ownership sit? Do you still own the copyright? What rights to the social media platforms have over your content? What rights do other people have to modify, share or alter your work?
At the simplest level, social media is all about content sharing, either as words, pictures or moving images. This content is then posted, shared, liked, reposted, regrammed and tweeted about and in the initial throes of social media passion, little thought is given to the content thrown around. You know, like who owns the copyright, what are your responsibilities and what are your rights when your content gets turned into a meme or cut and pasted into someone else’s profile?
There are essentially three types of content that happens on social media; original, curated or user generated, let’s take a look at these:
- Original content – this is content that is created by you such as images, blog posts, videos, graphics, cartoons, music files etc. As the creator of the content, you own the copyright.
- Curated content – this is other people’s content that you want to share with your audience, such as industry articles, images, shared links etc. Someone else created the content, and they own the copyright.
- User generated content – this is content that your community creates and puts onto your social media platforms such as comments, images, shared links etc. Someone else created the content, and they may or may not own the copyright as they could be sharing someone else’s content as part of their own.
To make sure you are playing by the rules and also protecting the integrity of your own content, it is vital that you understand 3 key areas related to social media and copyright.
For those not hyperventilating, I bet you are sitting back saying, everything’s fine, I have a creative commons agreement slapped on my content..well, I’m glad you said that.
3. Creative Commons
Creative commons is a fantastic way of managing your content and third party use. Creative commons is a licensing system of varying degrees, but ultimately it is based on you allowing controlled third party use of your shared content (you can check out the licenses here). Ultimately you can control how someone uses your work, whether they can adapt it, how they should attribute it or in what context it can be used, which is fantastic for online management, but to really make this work for you, you need to ensure that your creative commons license takes into account both the present and the future as it is non-revocable. That’s right, you can’t take it back and make it go away, which according the Australian Copyright Council means a creative commons license slapped on your work now could remove your ability to exclusively license the same work in a separate arrangement down the line. If this has got you panicking, you can find out more about Creative Commons here, but what I am trying to say is, make sure you are protecting your most valuable content up front and not after the fact.
What is the lesson here?
Well, fundamentally if you are using social media and you are in any way concerned about the copyright of your content, and how it can be used online, get your head around the platforms you are using – now. The simplest solution is to not post any of your material online, however in this digital day and age, this will severly limit you ability to take your business and brand to market.
So understand the platforms you are using, or want to use and be strategic about what you post online.
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