Copyright Rules for Social Media Marketing

Do you understand how copyright law affects social media? Businesses of the 21st Century have embraced modern and innovative means of marketing/advertising their goods and services, in addition to engaging with existing and potential customers.

One of the most effective means of achieving this objective is leveraging on the platform of Social Media.

Social media marketing has achieved widespread popularity and spread because it creates room for businesses and companies to engage with their target market across a wide variety of channels including email marketing, bulk sms messaging as well as other media.

Content in Social media marketing is key and this is where businesses need to thread with caution. This stance of caution is necessary in order to avoid the pitfalls that come with copyright rules infringement. The possibility of copyright infringement occurring is high, given the vast numbers of individuals and businesses vying for a share of target markets.

One of the arguments against Copyright laws and infringement is that the present day codes and regulations do not take into consideration the present realities of marketing/advertising in the digital space.

Schools of thought advance that with so many participants and with blurry lines of execution, enforcing social media marketing rules will be a hard sell.

However, it must be noted that copyright rules for social media marketing do exist and it is advised that individuals and businesses acquaint themselves with the stipulations of the laws. The following tips will assist the business in adhering to the most basic copyright rules when the business engages in online promotion of its goods/services and in engaging with customers:

Fair Use, Copyright and Social Media for Business

1. Take into Consideration the “Fair use” Policy

As a business, promoting a good or service will involve the generation and deployment of content, over a variety of media. The business must thoroughly investigate and guard against the use of materials and strategies that have been used and protected by another entity.

The Fair use policy was instituted to allow the limited deployment of a registered work to a reasonable extent and without necessarily having to obtain the permission of the original owner to use the work.

A template of questions exists for the business to use in determining whether it is observing the Fair use policy. The questions include:

• What is the purpose and extent of use of the work?
• What is the make-up of the copyrighted work?
• What proportion of the work was used compared to the whole?
• Will the copied material impact on the market value of the original copyrighted work?

As in all matters, the business must tread carefully in using copyrighted work, as the Laws do not regard ignorance as a ground for copyrights violation.

2. Own it or obtain Permission to use Copyrighted Material

The business must go to great lengths and leave no stone unturned in matters regarding copyrighted material. For instance, the works created by the employees of a business in its social media marketing drive belong to the business and it can lay claim to the enforcement of its copyrights.

However, if the business procures work from independent freelance contractors, then the right to the works may or may not be exclusive to the business; which is dependent on the terms and conditions binding both parties in the first instance.

3. Seek Resolution through Appropriate Quarters

In the online digital world of social media marketing, businesses can take advantage of the presence of relevant bodies, saddled with the task of resolving disputes arising from copyright violations.

One of such bodies is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) which provides a safe harbor to online service providers (including Web hosts and social media sites). Any business that feels that its copyrights have been infringed, can send a take-down request to the DMCA, who will subsequently investigate the veracity of the claim and act in accordance with whatever findings that arise.

Businesses should also note that they bear part responsibility in ensuring that their copyrights are not infringed upon.

4. Take into Consideration Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a non-profit global organization that is set-up to provide individuals and businesses with access to copyrighted works, having obtained approval of the original owners to that effect.

However, there have been problems with the operations of Creative Commons license where the individual who granted the creative commons to the rights of a work, may actually not be the original creator/owner of the particular work.

The Creative Commons organization absolves itself of any issues that may arise from the use of its license, hence the business venture will do well to go through the appropriate channels in the use of copyrighted material.

5. Register works under National and Internal Copyright Laws

One of the ways by which businesses can successfully engage in social media marketing is to register and obtain licenses such as trademarks, registered trademarks as well as copyrights to content and material it produces.

In this way, the business is empowered to give out the right to others, for the purposes reproducing your work, distributing copies of your work, preparing altered versions from your original work as well as performing your work.