Social Media Copyright Infringement

We do a great job of educating our clients on the myths and facts about copyright law, so nobody ends up inadvertently violating a copyright. We’re pretty vigilant about checking up on rights for anything our clients provide us. A lot of you are handling social media accounts yourself, which means you don’t have OTM’s vigilance behind you on those. Before you land yourself in hot water, here’s a look a social media copyright infringement.

Copyright is copyright. It doesn’t matter if you’re reusing a photo on a billboard on I-25 that thousands will view every day or if you’re posting an image to your 437 Facebook followers. It’s a copyright violation if you don’t have permission to use the image or text you’re putting up.

How do you know if you have permission to use the image you’re about to post to social media? It’s actually pretty simple. You’re cool to post it if:

  • You or someone on your staff working for you created the image. That means they’re the one who took the photo, painted the original piece or wrote the words you’re using.
  • You paid for the image. Either you hired a photographer to shoot it for you, or you licensed it from a stock photo library.

That’s about it. If you’re scrounging photos from weird parts of the internet and putting them on your feeds, you’re committing social media copyright infringement.

Social Media Copyright Infringement

Think it’s no big deal? It can be. The owner of the photograph doesn’t have to contact you with a letter asking you to take down the image, or doesn’t have to give Facebook or Instagram a heads-up about the infringement. If you’re lucky, they will.

If you’re not, they may send you a bill for the photo, and let’s be real here: At this point you’ve painted yourself into a corner, so it’s going to cost much, much more than the $20 it would have taken to license a stock image. How much you ask? Prices up to $8,000 for a single appropriated image have been reported.

Pay close attention to what you’re posting on your social accounts!