Copyright infringement on social media

Copyright and trademark infringement and social media

Have you posted things in social media that you’ve copied from the internet and not give proper source credit?

Sharing other’s information is part of the fun of social media sites like Facebook and Pinterest. But how often do the credits of those things you share not come along with the post?

Copyright and trademark infringement is something to watch out for, especially when you’re posting for your business. Plagiarism is rampant on the web too. Are you guilty of copy and paste?

It is important to create your own content to share on social media, to brand your content, and to credit sources for other content that you may share. When you create your own content, you are increasing the probability that your own brand is shared virally. Yes there a many other businesses across the country that do what you do, but you are unique and the content you share should reflect that.

No more stock photos! Yes stock photos are good in a pinch, but they are resold millions of times. How many times have you seen the same photo you purchased for your post card on other people’s marketing materials? You loved the photo, but guess what, so did thousands of business owners and marketing managers. That’s why it was on the top of the list on the stock photo site… it sells like hotcakes!

Take your own photos! Be resourceful. Everyone has a family member that is good at taking photos, or if you don’t, call up the local college/trade school and get a student to come out and take photos for you. Make sure you plan your shots well. Get local folks to be your models, or ask the student to bring some of their friends. Again, plan. Find similar photos online and discuss your shoot at length with the photographer so you can get exactly what you want. Then the next time you post content online, it is your own content. This is time and money well spent. Take the time to stage your brand exactly as you want it.

Write your own copy!!!! This can’t be stressed enough. The most common mistake people make online is “borrowing” their copy from someone else. On our own website, we’ve had problems with our competitors lifting our content word for word and placing it on their website. Not good for many reasons. Even if you are a franchise and have the right to use the corporate site’s content, it is not a good idea to copy and past directly. And on social media, you really need to be careful about not giving credit to its proper source.

The obvious reason of legal action is one reason to write your own copy. But the other reason is content syndication on the web and search engines. Google reads your content and if there is other content that is exactly the same, it could jeopardize your placement. Search engines are built with a form of intelligence that can figure out which sites are simply copies of other sites. The copies and then some times the original website can receive lower ranking because they are copies. Google doesn’t like cheaters, and copies are cheating it its algorithms.

Trademark infringement is something to watch out for as you’re sharing info on social media. Memes are extremely popular, but be careful with what you share. Things that denigrate someone’s trademark or brand, even if they’re funny, are dangerous ground. There is a permanent record of who shared what online and it could hurt your brand in the end. Another way to think of trademark infringement is to think like Hollywood producers looking at product placement in their movie. Could that company come back to you and say “remove my logo from your advertisement/social media post/content because you are not representing our brand…” Trademark infringement is complicated and its best to avoid it.

Ideally, social media followers share your content, so creating your own content that is staged exactly as you want it benefits your business more than sharing other people’s content. The greatest benefit is pointing all of your content back to you. Sending out great photos that have your logo or website branded in them points people back to you. So no matter where the content goes, people will always know its origin. Stage your brand at every moment, especially your social media content!