‘Is it OK To Use this Picture?’ Some Considerations for Using Material from Social Media Sites

‘Is it OK To Use this Picture?’ Some Considerations for Using Material from Social Media Sites

Really, the point of social media is to share and spread a particular piece of content, isn’t it? Most folks want their content to be liked, retweeted and reposted, don’t they? This builds the popularity and the value of their ideas, right?

Well, legally, it is still fuzzy in terms of what is copyrightable in social media and what classifies as infringement. The legal structure is built slowly, piece by piece, so this topic is one that will grow both in definition and complexity. Professionals in highly regulated areas such as financial advice, medical advice, and tax are justifiably concerned about the dangers of putting anything in writing in the wild landscape of social media. For now though, how about some guidelines for sharing content and avoiding social media copyright issues, rather than protection and prosecution.

Do you have the licenses or permissions for all images? For blog posts, make it a practice to either use your own photos or create your own drawings and charts. If you just can’t do that, purchase photos from a photo licensing site.

Make sure to have clear copyright policies for your work. It is a good practice to include a copyright statement on all presentations, web pages, and images. Of course, if you really want to protect your property, you must then be willing to invest the time and effort in searching for violators and following up on prosecuting them.

Did borrowing that image cost someone else money? Be very careful posting content if you know the originator may lose money. For example, media sources that get their income from paying subscribers need there content to be closely guarded. Using their logos, photos or direct copies of articles will likely to get you a strong email letting you know how you can purchase the rights, or cease and desist. The same goes for celebrities, well-known writers, etc. On the other hand, many up-and-coming content creators and entrepreneurs are very happy to see their content liked and posted, with attribution of course.

Give credit to the source. Social media is about the sharing of ideas, opinions, and creativity. In this spirit, credit the source with a link back to the original, a nod to the author with a simple retweet. This may not protect you completely, but it does show non-malicious intent that can help in the event of a later challenge.