Digital Marketing

Are Your Social Media Images Violating Copyright Laws?

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018 by Kuldeep Bisht

A study conducted by Chute and Digiday found that visual content performs 4.4 times better on average compared to simple, text-based content alone. This is one of the many indicators of just how important images are to social media marketing.

visual content works better.

My suggestion; make sure you’re not breaking any laws in the process; otherwise, you and your business might find yourselves on the wrong end of a copyright infringement lawsuit. So, how to steer clear of image copyright from unknown sources like Google Images.

That’s not much difficult as it sounds. Below are some tips on the correct legal usage of pictures on social media:

Familiarize Yourself with the Basics of Copyright

Never pay attention to any random information on copyright you find on the Internet.

breaking copyright law

Instead, learn the basics from reliable sources. Considering how extensively images are used in social media content, knowing such information can help you immensely, not just for posting legally but protecting your own content as well.

The rule of thumb here is, if you did not create it, you might not be able to use it. And that applies even in instances where you’re willing to credit the creator of the work. All of this sounds needlessly complicated, doesn’t it? An easier solution would be to head to a copyright-free image database like Pixabay that lets you download, modify, and share pictures on social media.

Pay Attention to the Terms and Conditions before Posting on a Social Media Platform

Survey Monkey conducted a survey on digital rights and found that:-

digital rights survey

  • Only 21 percent ever read the terms and conditions carefully
  • 45 percent read them only sometimes
  • While 34 percent never bothered to check them out.

What this means is that the majority of people have no clue about the rules, which are in place to protect both the social media platforms and their users. Notice that these terms vary considerably.

facebook TOS

For example, while you can retweet pretty much anything on Twitter, repining images on Pinterest or reposting a picture on Instagram is a dicey affair. This is why it’s important to understand what is or is not acceptable for each platform.

Read the terms for all the platforms and make sure you know what’s allowed to spare yourself a lot of money, time, and heartache later on.

Pick the Proper License While Using Stock Images

Choose the proper license when you plan on using stock images. Licenses that cost more usually allow you to do more with the picture. Use a stock image service like Shutterstock that lets you pick the license but ensure your choice fulfills your requirements. Lots of licenses allow the picture to be used for editorial purposes only, while others let you use it a certain number of times.

shutterstock terms

Be careful when using stock art to create new images for other companies and organizations; you probably need a license for that. Licenses are usually available directly from the company.

Read the license guidelines carefully to avoid licensing mistakes, and if you have further doubts, reach out to the company and enquire about the permissions yourself.

Never Assume that Your Use of Another Person’s Image Adheres to the Fair Use Guidelines

You might have heard the term fair use quite a lot, but what does it mean?

Fair Use Guidelines

Basically, this doctrine allows images and content to be used in certain ways as long as the author’s rights are not hampered. Fair use cannot be claimed just be crediting the author; it is actually a lot more complicated and depends on factors like:

  • Nature of the work
  • Value of the work or its effect on the market
  • The character and purpose of use

Fair use is possible only when you manage to balance public interest with copyright protection. Thus, ask yourself what you’re using the image for. The

The above-mentioned points will create awareness about copyright laws and prevent you from violating them when you use images for social media marketing purposes.

Kuldeep Bisht

I'm a blogger. I help you succeed online. I write actionable tips & tricks, product reviews, SEO resources & tools. Join my digital journey.

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