I want to start this article by stating I am not a Copyright or legal expert, and the contents of this article are purely my own experience, opinions and thoughts. For specific circumstances, we recommend you contact a legal representative for individual advice.

No doubt we have all shared images or quotes that we enjoyed or related to, most commonly via our preferred Social Media channels. After all, it’s great to share the love, but have you always provided credit or acknowledged the original owner of the content?

We recently had an instance where one of our original images was published by two profiles on their social media site – with our identifying features (website) removed. Unfortunately, we recognise this happens from time to time, especially on social media.

When the unauthorised & edited version came to our attention, we commented to the said social media users, by simply using the statement;

“We are pleased that you enjoyed our image enough to share it, but we are disappointed it has been edited and our ownership removed”

The two responses we received were worlds apart.

The first user apologised and promptly added our details to their post, acknowledging our ownership – problem solved!

The second user gave us a more disappointing response. Using the same statement, they chose to block us from their profile and deleted our comment. Unsatisfied, we followed up with an email, again expressing our disappointment with the editing of our original image, highlighting their action to delete and block us was not the best way of handling the breach of copyright and requested they replace the image with our original image. This business changed their strategy and implemented the following solution; apologising privately, deleting the image & unblocking us from their profile.

Don’t get us wrong, we are more than happy for our creations to be shared, as are our clients who we create images for. The action of sharing generally leads to greater awareness and reach – but there is a right way!

Try these steps to avoid breaches of copyright

  1. Use your own photos/images.
  2. Create your own social media images.
  3. If you add a quote, identify who said it.
  4. Ask permission before you use someone else’s image.
  5. Include a watermark or other identifying feature to your images.
  6. If you outsource to a creator (illustrator, photographer or other artist) be sure to review the contract or agreement for details on ownership of the images created.
  7. Share the original owners image intact and with credit to them (their name, website or social media handle is often enough).
  8. If unsure, seek legal advise before proceeding.

If you have a copyright story, I’d love to hear it. Please post your story in the box below.

For more information on Copyright Act in Australia visit www.copyright.org.au, or in the US www.copyright.gov. For other locations, please search for your country’s relevant Copyright Authority.

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By Sam Spence – Founder & Principal Executive Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

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