In most countries, copyright is bestowed upon the creator of a work as soon as the work is created. While there is no need for a creative work to be registered in order for it to have copyright, registration can further solidify a creator’s rights. In the US, under the Copyright Act of 1976, copyright owners have exclusive rights to reproduce, adapt, distribute, and display their works. That means, if you should infringe on someone’s copyright, you could end up paying hefty fees. You could also find yourself out of a job. If you knowingly ripped off someone’s copyright for something like a counterfeit product, you could even wind up in jail.
As a social media marketer, you are sure to be using images, text, and other creative media all of the time, so it is pivotal that you are aware of copyright issues to ensure you do not infringe on anyone’s rights. Here are three of the most important issues you should know.
1. Moral Rights
One part of copyright that many social media marketers are unaware of is moral rights. They ensure the integrity and intent behind the creator’s work are fully preserved. So, if you reproduce the copyright owner’s works and defame or alter them without the copyright owner’s permission, you will have affected the moral rights and reputation of the work’s author and you could find yourself in heaps of trouble.
Never use copyrighted material without the copyright owner’s permission. But as long as you gain written permission, you will be allowed to use the works for marketing.
2. Copyright Infringement for Images and Text
Copyright infringement is the unauthorized use of copyrighted works like texts and images. That means you cannot simply repost any image or text from the web and add it to social media posts without first checking whether the work is protected by copyright. If you do infringe upon the copyright, the copyright owner can sue you.
Some social media marketers think that they can alter an original copyrighted work in order to get away with not infringing on copyright, but that is simply untrue. Even if you alter an image by doing things like changing the color and adding elements, if the image is substantially similar to the original, as is almost always the case when using a copyrighted image as your starting point, you will be infringing on the copyright. The same goes for text. Social media marketers often make the mistake of thinking they can simply change 25% of a written text and it will be copyright-free. Again, that is not true. If you are using other texts as sources for social media posts, always run your text through an online plagiarism checker like Copyscape.
3. Copyright Infringement for Drawings Based on Photographs
You now know that you cannot use a copyrighted image in your blog post, even if you alter it. You also know you cannot simply lift someone else’s blog post and change a significant amount of it. But there is another way in which you could infringe on copyright that you need to be aware of. If an illustrator makes a drawing from a photograph, the illustration could infringe upon the photographer’s copyright.
Generally, you are thought to have infringed upon a photo when you make a drawing that has the same choice of subject matter, composition, lighting, and so on. So, whether you hire someone to make a drawing based on a photograph or use an online illustration that you do not even know is based on a photograph, you could end up infringing on a creator’s copyright if you post such drawings on social media sites.