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On Behalf of | Aug 13, 2015 | Wang IP Law Blog

Many companies are beginning to include social media as a part of their business strategy. Social media can create new marketing opportunities and give companies the ability to mass publish and distribute content to anyone who has access to the Internet. Many companies use social media as a way to increase profits by helping expose the business to many potential customers. However, there are many copyright issues that must be taken into consideration once a post is made social media websites.

Posting Original Material

When posting original material on social media, one must remember that it is available for anyone and everyone to view. Although copyright laws protect any author’s work produced on a tangible medium, it is hard to prove the originality of a short social media posts. The shorter the material, the more original it must be, therefore it is extremely difficult to obtain a copyright on tweets and other short social media posts.

One barrier that limits copyright protection for posts such as tweets is that most posts are factual statements that cannot be copyrighted. Though there are exceptions to this rule, such as news stories and textbooks, a short social media post normally does not meet the requirement of a copyright.

Reposting Material

Reposting work is also a common practice in the social media world. Giving credit for work may not always be enough to avoid copyright infringement on social media. Giving credit is not the same as receiving permission to repost an author’s work. Generally, the holder of a copyright has exclusive rights to their own work and decides how they want their work distributed. Simply giving credit to the copyright owner does not protect someone from an infringement claim.

Many authors and companies actively seek to increase the popularity of their work, but there is a difference between using an image to help increase it’s exposure to the public and using the imagine for personal profit. The original author of a post has all the intellectual property rights to the content he or she posts on social media. Social media users are liable for any infringement of copyrighted material and other intellectual property.

The Terms of Use

It is also important to note that every user agrees to the terms and agreement of the social media platform when making their account. The terms often include a statement of which every user has intellectual property rights to the content that they are posting on the site.

For example, Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities governs the terms of agreement from users. It states that users “will not post content or take any action on Facebook that infringes or violates someone else’s rights or otherwise violates the law”. It also states that any content posted on Facebook is covered by intellectual property rights and that the user owns all the content and information they decide to post.

Intellectual property within social media is still a developing area of the law. Though some social media users may not want his or her materials reposted, businesses may be enthusiastic about their materials being shared.

Every social media user that creates a post can be considered a publisher. Ownership of one’s creative work is automatic and becomes a person’s legally protected intellectual property. Once a post is made, social media users are open to potential copyright liabilities. Social media is still growing at a rapid rate and users must understand their rights to their published works on social media.