How many times have you plagiarised content for your academic projects and gotten away with it? Possibly always, but that won’t be the same scenario if you’re caught stealing someone else’s content on social media platforms.
There is a lot of confusion surrounding the copyright laws regarding social media— is like a global platform that offers a chance to anybody who’s willing to take it. Right from artist, photographers to writers, it is filled with content curators and curated content, you’re just a click away from all the information.
Now, just because the content is easily accessible and put out for consumption of public it doesn’t mean you can take it without their consent. People often argue that, ‘if you don’t want your content plagiarised don’t put it online.’
But consider this situation, you go to an art exhibition and apply the same logic as mentioned above, then it makes it okay for you to pick up a piece and walk out with it just because it was on public display. Makes the argument sound stupid now, doesn’t it?
Now, Let’s get familiar with Copyright to better understand all the aspects of it in regard to Social Media:
The Copyright Act, 1957 protects original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and cinematograph films and sound recordings from unauthorized uses. Unlike the case with patents, copyright protects the expressions and not the ideas. There is no copyright in an idea.
Simply put, it protects the owner of one kind of intellectual property (created by an individual but having no form or substance).
When it comes to internet it is much more complicated, keep reading to have a better understanding.
Now, you might have not read Social Media copyright polices because honestly, who reads the terms and conditions before hitting ‘I agree’? Following is the brief of their policies:
Social Media and Copyright
Social media, giants like Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, permit online posting of material that may be copyrighted. However, the social media site does not automatically own the work that has been posted on their site; the copyright is still retained by the owner. But by agreeing to post works on the site, you voluntarily sign an agreement that gives the site a license to use the work. In these cases, the license is permitted without payment.
Then is the content posted online free?
No, as we read above the content rights are retained by the owners unless specified otherwise,
And, even if the photograph on the site has no watermark, it is covered by the copyright protection as it falls within the definition of ‘content’. That means that trademark logos, and images of any company or individual cannot be taken for free.
So, does reposting come under copyright infringement?
Well, yes and no. It depends on the circumstances, like with Instagram, the platform by itself doesn’t support sharing content (directly to your feed, it’s open to sharing with people on direct message). So, before you start (or continue) regramming to Instagram, have a look at the legal issues to protect yourself and your business.
As discussed multiple times already, the person who curated and posted the content always retains the rights, so you cannot skimp on credits, that’s like passing it as yours and will be considered stealing.
Now there are certain third-party apps like Regram or Repost that allow you to ‘@’ mention the original user and share their original post caption on your feed making it clear who the owner is. But, the most important thing is that, these apps include a watermark that’s generated automatically on the image you share, with the original user’s Instagram username. This is ideal because it ensures that the original user is given full attribution for their content.
So, now we’ve learned that there’s two kinds of consent when it comes to getting permission from the owner’s about using their content (Image, articles etc): there’s implied consent and express consent.
Another way of implied consent is, if you’ve asked your audience, customers, and followers to tag your business in their photos via @ mentions or tags or hashtags) and if they have done this on their public Instagram profile, then it’s like they’ve essentially provided you with the implied consent to use their content.
But what happens if there is no implied consent? Well, then in this case, to legally protect yourself don’t share it, it’s a must that you get the user’s express consent to regram the content.
You can either comment on their post informing them that you want to share their photo with your audience. Then you can also ask if you can have their consent to repost it. Once you receive a written response, permitting you to repost the picture, then you’re free to repost the picture. Incase they don’t respond, don’t use it. Asking doesn’t suffice, you need the actual consent.