Common Social Media Issues:
3 Ways to Avoid Getting Sued

We like to think of 2020 as the “black year” of the modern age, but when we set aside the craziness and the anxiety-inducing news and lockdowns, we can also notice some interesting trends.

For instance, people started shopping more online, companies finally agreed that work from home is a thing, and many rediscovered home cooking. And you can follow all these trends on social media platforms – one of the sectors that registered a fulminant growth in 2020 (with over 490 million new users).

Therefore, social media is one of the biggest winners in 2020, increasing in popularity all over the world. Of course, this is not surprising since, after getting bored of Netflix, scrolling on Instagram or Tik Tok may have been the most exciting thing to do.

But what does this mean for content creators? Social media is a fast-paced environment, where you have to be aware of the latest trends and create content accordingly. Also, most algorithms favor channels that always push fresh and good-looking content, so creators are forced to be on the go all the time.

And, since it’s difficult to churn out engaging ideas or create content from scratch all the time, many creators cut corners and may end up using copyrighted materials in their own creations (without knowing) or just share these materials without proper credit. According to Heer Law, a Toronto based law firm, this practice is dangerous as it can easily lead to costly and reputation-damaging lawsuits.

To avoid this sort of unpleasant situation, here are three methods to avoid getting sued over copyright infringement.

#1: How to Use Images Correctly

The use of copyrighted images in blog posts or on social media is one of the most common occurrences that could get an influencer or a social media manager in trouble.

So, to make sure the image(s) you will be using are safe (the ones you didn’t take or made), here are the steps to follow:

  • If the image is not hosted on a platform that allows images to be used freely, try to identify the owner and ask for permission (send them an email where you specify where and why you want to use the image).
  • Check to make sure the image is part of the public domain (free to use).
  • Check to see if the image is available under a Creative Commons or a similar license. If yes, check if you can use it for commercial use (as part of an ad campaign or published on a website).
  • Lastly, if you want to alter the image, check if this action is allowed by the author.

#2: How to Use Other Users’ Content

There are a few notorious lawsuits involving photographers who were robbed of their work by big agencies (news, fashion, and others) who considered that content posted on social media was free for use without even crediting the creator.

Based on their logic, anyone can take and use images, videos, and content of any kind as long as it is shared by the author on a social media platform. Most of these lawsuits took a long time to settle, but in the end, creators received compensation for copyright infringement.

This means that, if you want to share another user’s content, you first have to get their accord. You can do this by either sending them a direct message or posting a comment on the content you want to share. And, if you get their accord, make sure to always give proper credit.

#3: Pay Attention to Warnings

If, somehow, you made a mistake and ended up using copyrighted content, make sure to keep track of any emails, comments, or direct messages warning you to take that content down. In most situations, when someone finds their content is used without their accord, they will first send a warning, asking the user to rectify their mistake. However, if this message is ignored, then the situation could get ugly.

In summary, even though social media is all about following the trends, users have the obligation to respect each other’s rights and creations.