Do you like to share images on social media without a second thought? If so, have you ever wondered whether that’s the right thing to do? Knowing the basics about copyright law will allow you to use images on social media legally as well as help you protect your content.
There are rules and laws to follow when it comes to image marketing, and a good online marketing services company will adhere to them.
The following guidelines can protect your business from a copyright infringement lawsuit.
What is Copyright Protection?
Copyright can apply to many different types of creative works. Copyright protection is automatic (if you used it, then that work is assumed to be yours). But what about the copyright symbol? Well, some people still like to use it as a way of saying, “Hey, this is mine,” even though it isn’t legally required.
Copyright essentially means that nobody else can use your creation without permission.
However, the protection can only be enforced if you apply with the US Copyright Office within 90 days of when you released your content. So, for example, if a violation occurs on June 1, you’ll have until September 1 to apply. If you don’t apply by then, you won’t be able to sue for copyright infringement.
Using Others’ Work
When it comes to using others’ work, always remember this rule: if you didn’t create it, then you shouldn’t use it. Even giving the creator credit won’t always be enough.
The exception is if the image is “labeled for reuse” or if the owner gave their express permission for others to use their image. Also, pay attention if there are any caveats like “for non-commercial usage only.”
Read the Terms of Service
Each social media website has its own rules put in place to protect their company and their users. That’s why if you’re a business, then this next step really is mandatory: you must read through the website’s terms of service. It’s super important and can save you much trouble down the line.
Why You Should Read the Terms of Service: A Real-World Example
We need to hammer this point home, which is why we’re going to show you an example of why you should understand terms of service. On Pinterest, they have a couple of interesting rules. The first one is that you’re responsible for everything that you post on the platform. The second rule is that you’re allowed to repin other people’s images on Pinterest.
The first rule can get you into trouble. Let’s say that Sarah has a blog about puppies, Rachel on Pinterest loves one of those puppies and copies the picture onto her Pinterest account. Jane comes along and repins the image onto her board of adorable puppies. In this case, Rachel and Jane would be violating the terms of service, even though Jane wasn’t aware of where the image originally came from. That’s because of the seemingly simple rule “you’re solely responsible for the content you post to Pinterest.”
So it’s essential to not only read all of the rules and terms but to understand them as well. This area is where an online marketing services company can be very beneficial. They will make sure that all of the rules are followed to protect you and your business/brand.
Understand Image Licensing
Another layer of complexity comes from stock services: image licensing. You can purchase images from these stock websites, and you have the option of what kind of license you’d like them to have. Generally speaking, the more expensive licenses allow you to do more with the image. Depending on the license in question, you may only be able to post the picture a certain number of times, or for certain types of usage only. With images and licenses, it’s essential to know what you’re buying.
Seek Permission From the Creator
You should always try and get permission from the owner before using their image or video. Many people will be happy for you to use their image, provided that you give them credit. Also, keep in mind that there are attorneys and photographers out there looking for people who violate copyright. Most of them will be happy to settle outside of court, but that can still cost you thousands of dollars. Just remember it’s better to be safe than sorry when you’re considering whether or not to use an image or video to market on social media.
Fair Use Guidelines
But what about fair use? You might assume that fair use doesn’t apply to images used in marketing campaigns, and your assumption would most likely be correct. You see, fair use is one of the only exceptions to the copyright rule. The purpose of the fair use doctrine is to allow for exceptions of when images and content can be used by others, as long as that usage doesn’t impede the original author’s rights.
Giving credit to the creator isn’t the same thing as fair use. Fair use refers to how you are using that content. If you’re using it for education or nonprofit purposes, then it’s more likely to be considered fair use.
Whether or not it’s fair use depends on the nature of the work. Also, how much did you use – for example, did you use a single page of a book or the entire book?
An example would be a TV show. Sure it’s fine to take a snapshot of the TV show and post the picture in your ebook. However, what you can’t do is take an entire episode of said TV show and publish it on your website while claiming fair use for educational purposes.
When it comes to fair use, always ask yourself the question, “why am I using this content, and how much of it am I using?”