A few weeks ago, one of my friends “liked” a really great photograph on Facebook—one with no credit—of a dog yawning as a man poured a cup of coffee next to him. I really wanted to buy a print of it. A few hours later, I saw the same image on Instagram, undoubtedly cropped, filtered and again, not credited. Such is the Internet.
Eventually, I found the original photographer, Theron Humphrey. In his own Facebook photo album, Humphrey had shared posts created by at least two major businesses that used his image without permission or attribution, one of which had even Photoshopped their own commercial product into the image.
Rather than a lawsuit, Humphrey instead took to Twitter and asked his followers to help him persuade the company to make a donation to an animal shelter, which they did after apologizing for using the photograph. Sound familiar?
It’s important for businesses to understand that reposting or reblogging images on social media on their own page still qualifies as advertising. If you’re not directly reposting from the original source with a link back, you should be buying a commercial license to use that image.
Links, copyright and credit are crucially important in social media, especially with regard to business accounts. It’s something we take seriously at T3, where I serve as the Art Buyer and Digital Asset Manager. Let me share a few tips on how you can avoid copyright infringement:
• Know the law when it comes to copyright, especially as it applies to advertising and social media.
• Don’t just take anything from the Internet. Know when and how to obtain a license and abide by the terms you negotiate.
• If you’re not sure, ask. Consult an art buyer or copyright expert.
• Take advantage of digital asset management software and metadata to document usage rights and store licenses for all your social content, including images, videos, audio and talent releases.
T3 spends a lot of time creating original content for our clients’ social media accounts and managing usage rights needed to post all of the content sourced outside our agency.
As new technologies arrive, copyright infringement issues rise in importance. The smart approach is to work with a creative agency that understands intellectual property laws and helps clients create a consistent visual approach that best represents their brand.
Jessica Hutson, T3 social media manager, contributed to this blog post.