5 Tips For Copyright Infringement: Social Media Channels
Copyright infringement

5 Tips For Copyright Infringement: Social Media Channels

“I had purchased a cosmetic product a few months back from a company on which I have written an article and given my reviews on the product and published the article on my personal blog. I have been posting articles that were wholly written by me. However, after some days of posting the article, the cosmetic product company reposted my article on their official Facebook page in order to advertise their product without taking any permission from me. Therefore, Can I sue the company for copyright infringement?”

Introduction

Have you ever thought that the creative posts you’re uploading on social media can be copy-pasted by someone else even though you’re the actual owner of the post? On every original content you post, you have an exclusive right to protect it from others who try to steal it. Here, the word “original” plays a major role in understanding what an exclusive right is. Everything you post online should be your own original creation in order to get copyright protection over it. 

The copyright will protect your content which means no individual, company, or entity can repost or post your content under their name. If he does, then he would be liable for copyright infringement. In this article, the author explains the issues of copyright infringement in social media channels by taking the reference to copyright laws of India and the US. 

Also, if you want to know about the Patent Infringement, you can read the article below:

Best Tips For Patent Infringement: Types & Cases

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What is Copyright?

In simpler words, Copyright is an exclusive right that is provided to a person who has created an original work, and he has the right to use his work in any way. Here, the term “work” includes a wide range of creations such as artistic work, literary work, cinematographic work, photographic work, etc. Once you created any of the original work that comes under the copyright laws, you hold ownership over the work, which cannot be taken away by anyone. 

Copyright Infringement

I. India

In India, copyright infringement on social media is increasing with the number of users on social media. It’s a red flag that common people don’t have much knowledge about the consequences of copy-pasting anyone’s hard work. The act of downloading and uploading copyrighted content on social media without permission from the owner will be considered a crime.

There have been various solutions that have been introduced in this regard, such as blockchain, tagging the owner, watermarking the posts, and restricting the access to download the posts. However, users still find ways to violate the copyright laws, which is not a good sign for the Indian copyright laws, and it needs urgent legal action in order to avoid copyright infringement. 

There are a number of cases that depict the role of Indian copyright law in social media, from which, in the case, UTV software communication limited vs. 1337x to and ors.  The Delhi High Court stated that copyright infringement on digital platforms is no different from the copyright infringement happening in the physical model. Moreover, the Indian copyright act doesn’t provide any such provisions which differentiate crimes held in the virtual models from the physical model. The definition of crime is the same irrespective of its mode of occurrence. 

II. The US

Under US copyright law, it is illegal to repost, reuse, download, and upload any original content. The US copyright law states that the copyright owner has the right to file a suit against the third party, and the owner can seek injunctions or damages. 

With the increase in the number of social media users, sharing others’ content and photographs has become common among millions of users. This practice has made the users forget about copyright law. Social media has become a platform where anyone can post or freely view others’ content, which has led to many copyright infringement cases in the US Jurisdiction in the past few years. 

In North Jersey Media Group Inc v. Pirro Case, the plaintiff North Jersey Media Group (NJMG), filed a copyright infringement suit against Pirro fox news. In this case, Pirro fox news has posted a photograph that was a copyrighted work of the North Jersey media group. However, the Pirro fox news made some changes to the image and posted it on their official account, but Pirro fox news used fair use as their defense. Further, the court rejected Pirro’s argument as adding mere hashtags and alterations doesn’t create a new image in the eyes of the public. Therefore, Pirro fox news cannot claim protection under fair use provisions. 

Social media is a platform where millions of users post content covering different topics and categories and try to grow or expand their business or try to reach and connect with more followers for the purpose of commercial use. However, it doesn’t suggest that anyone can repost or just copy and paste the owner’s hard work on social media. If your work is eligible to obtain copyright protection, then wherever you post online, you can continue to own the copyright of it. 

However, by posting such content on social media channels, you’re agreeing to their “terms of use.” There are some social media channels that might allow anyone to use your work. The copyright will be retained by the owner, but if you’re accepting these terms of use, then that means you’re allowing other users to reuse your work. Hence, it’s crucial to read the terms of use of social media channels carefully. 

However, as mentioned before, it doesn’t mean that anyone can use your original posts and use them. For example, if you post an image on Twitter, users can retweet it, but no one can merely copy the image and use it on social media or outside of social media, it wouldn’t lead to fair use. 

The terms of Facebook status that you as a user reserve all the rights over the content and posts you share on Facebook, and it’s your right to change the privacy settings of how the content is shared on Facebook. Additionally, it has also included that you grant Facebook a non-exclusive, sub-licensable, transferable, free of fees to use the content. All the content or posts will be deleted when you leave Facebook. Even though Facebook has the license to use the posts and content, you have the authority with whom you want to share the content. 

The first rule of copyright mentioned in YouTube’s terms of use is that the creators should only post the videos which are made by them, and they have the authorization to use them. The users should not upload any videos that aren’t made by them or upload any content on which someone else has the copyright, such as music, programs, or videos made by others without their permission.

If any creator violated this first rule of copyright, then his account would be suspended permanently by Youtube. Still, there are creators who violate these terms and upload content that’s not their own. However, the strict actions by Youtube have made copyright infringement cases on Youtube a bit manageable.

The terms of Telegram also doesn’t allow its user to share any material that violates the law, but over the years, users have been sharing pirated content. Unlike Youtube, telegram doesn’t permanently delete the user’s account after he illegally shares any content, which has made Telegram another alternative to Torrentz.

Telegram can only take down the content when the owner himself claims that his content is being distributed illegally, which is an absolute concern as preventing copyright infringement cases in Telegram will be difficult to handle. 

With the passing of time, Instagram has become a platform for the users to promote their services or business, or it also provides financial benefits for the users who collaborate with brands and promote it on their official accounts and hence, make money out of it. This has become quite demanding among the youths who want to make money through their posts or collaborations. 

With the increasing demand, the need for copyright protection also increases as most of the users who post their creative content on Instagram hold the copyright over it, and no one can reuse it without their permission. According to Instagram’s terms and use, users can only post content that doesn’t violate someone else’s Intellectual property rights. Therefore, the best way to prevent copyright infringement is to make content yourself. 

  1. Always try to seek permission from the owner before posting their content.
  1. It’s not true that tagging the owner or giving credits will take away the risks of copyright infringement because the liability of the owner to sue cannot be removed.
  1. Never encourage your followers to do any activities that will promote violation of copyright laws. For example, asking your follower to recreate photos or videos.
  1. Never post or use images that have a watermark on them, as the right owner can take action once they find out.
  2. Ensure before using any hashtags or quotes to promote your business that it has not been used before and doesn’t hold any Intellectual property rights by anyone.

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