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Re-Sharing User-Generated Content, Legally

Let’s talk about re-sharing user-generated content, legally, on Instagram. By the end of this post, you’ll understand 1) what user-generated content is, and 2) what it means to share user-generated content while complying with copyright law.

There are a few ways that this can come up.

The first is where a brand has tagged you in a photo where maybe they’re talking about you. This could be in influencercontext, or this could be just any user on Instagram tagging a product that they like or use and talking about it. Technically speaking, even though they’re tagging the brand or they’re talking about a product, you do not have consent to share a photo that you don’t own unless you seek permission. This is because of copyright law, of course. Usually the person that creates the content — like a photograph — owns that content. You may be able to seek a license or permission to use that content, but you don’t own that content. Giving someone credit or linking to her account is nice, but, number one, might not be necessary, and number two, it’s not enough to “absolve” you from copyright infringement. 

The second scenario is summed up in this question: what if it’s already on Instagram? If it’s already out there, isn’t it free to use? Answer: NO. Instagram’s own “Community Guidelines” kind of talk about this. The guidelines say: 

Share only photos and videos that you’ve taken or have the right to share.

Instagram Privacy and Safety Center, Community Guidelines

Instagram also goes through a little spiel on intellectual property rights and copyright and says,

The best way to help make sure that the content you post to Instagram doesn’t violate copyright law is to only post content that you’ve created yourself.

Instagram Help Center, Copyright

… and they’re right.

A lot of people go by the adage of “just give them credit and you can use it” but that’s that’s not legally correct. In other words, to put it simply in one sentence, you should be seeking permission for every photo — whether it’s a story or photo in your feed — before re-sharing it.

If you’re concerned whether you’re re-sharing user-generated content, legally, it’s better to ask permission before posting, just to be safe!

What’s that? Free info? Yes, please. Click below to learn four things you can do right now to protect your business online. 

Why Using Photos from the Internet is Usually a Bad Idea

Using photos from the internet can be such a source of headache. By the end of this post, you’re going to understand why it’s probably not a good idea to use images that you found on Google Image Search or Pinterest in connection with your business, and what you might do instead.

Common misconception: a lot of folks think that images that you find on Google Image Search or on Pinterest are in the public domain, or free of copyright, or free to use, and that could not be further from the truth.

Google catalogs images from everywhere, all kinds of different websites without regard to copyright ownership. So by using an image from Google Image Search or from Pinterest, you don’t know just by looking at the image whether it’s protected under copyright law, and you certainly don’t know whether you have permission from the owner to use it. In fact, I would assume that you don’t.

The issue is copyright, which of course speaks to who owns the photo or who owns the image, but also “right of publicity.” And remember, that right of publicity is an individual’s right to control how their name, image, and likeness is used for a commercial or business purpose. So whoever it is that appears in that image might not want their name, image, or likeness used in connection with your business purpose. 

What to do Instead of Using Photos from the Internet

If using photos from the internet can get you into trouble, what other options do you have? Well, there are plenty of reputable stock photo websites out there, some of which say “here are do-whatever-you-want-with-them photos” sometimes those sites have strings attached, so maybe it’s “do- whatever-you-want-with-them” photos… so long as you give credit or attribution.

Sometimes the photos can be used for personal use, but if you want to use it in connection with a business then you have to pay an extra license fee. 

So make sure and read the fine print, read the Terms of Use for those stock photo sites to make sure that you’re using them and compliance with their rules their license terms.

That is a much better option than using images from Pinterest or from Google Image Search.

What’s that? Free info? Yes, please. Click below to learn four things you can do right now to protect your business online. 

What’s A Creative Commons License?

what's a creative commons license

“Creative Commons.” It’s a term that you might run into when looking for a beautiful photograph or font to use on your website, PR, or in other marketing materials. You see it in a standard note when you go to download that photo or font: “Licensed under Creative Commons.”

Continue reading “What’s A Creative Commons License?”