We live in a digital age where we have access to endless amounts of digital content. If you are old enough to think back, digital content didn’t really start being used or redistributed until the rise of internet usage in the late 1990s. Now, as a society, we have almost become completely dependent on the internet and digital content.
There are hundreds of types of digital content out there we can now access such as videos, live streaming, blogs, pictures, memes, research data, reviews on products, etc…the list goes on. Quite a few people and companies depend on the production of digital content to bring in revenue such as bloggers, affiliate marketing, online ad campaigns for brands, YouTubers, and influencers.
Social Media forums such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok, to name some of the most popular ones, are one of the biggest ways digital content reaches users, and now with over 90% of Social Media users downloading the social forums through mobile apps, it is even more accessible. Online content can be used to engage, connect, entertain, teach, research, advertise, influence, and keep up with the latest news.
With so much access to digital content, it is imperative not to reuse or repurpose other people’s work. Naturally, content is shared and retweeted etc, but legal ramification can be inflicted upon individuals reusing even the simplest thing, such as a picture for your own interest without giving proper credit or contacting the owner for permission to use their work. Every image is copyrighted from the moment it is created.
“Unless you own the copyright to an image or have a license from the owner, printing a copy of an image or posting it online without permission is a violation of copyright. It’s up to the copyright holder to decide whether to sue you for infringement.”
Each time an online advertiser, for example, wants to promote their brands, it must be original content otherwise you must seek the permission of the person that created the content initially, or who owns the rights to it. If you want to use someone’s music for your own purposes, you must get permission. If you want to use a photo not produced by you, you must get permission from the creator.
There are certain sites a person can use to access other people’s content legally, and sometimes for free. Unsplash is one of them. Other sites exist that you can legally access for the use of another’s content for a small fee.
Alternatively, if you are just not that creative, and need online content producing, you can hire a professional to do the work for you. Just make sure all guidelines are clearly outlined in a legal agreement as to who will own the rights to the created content in the end, such as you outright paying for the ownership of the material.
If you own a company, sometimes it is best to hire an in-house team to create your content, by which the employer usually legally owns all rights to the content created.
Copyright infringement cases have been in court long before the internet was even invented, dating back to the early 1700s, protecting book writers from sellers and printers of books.
Now that we are living in very technically advanced times, a lot of legal cases have been brought into court over the misuse of intellectual rights. The popular social media platform TikTok has seen its fair share of lawsuits over how it uses other people’s data.
One recent case came against them from a Canadian actress Bev Standing for claims of using her voice in its text-to-speech function. According to BBC News, the article goes on to explain how the feature “converts writing into speech, which can then be played over videos uploaded to the app, often for comedic effect.
Bev Standing recorded about 10,000 sentences of audio for the state-backed Chinese Institute of Acoustics research body to use in translations, in 2018.
The legal action claims her voice can now be heard in viral videos featuring “foul and offensive language”, causing her reputation “irreparable harm”.
Interesting enough, the actress is not on TikTok at all; rather, her friends and family were the ones to inform her of the situation. This is a case over “Moral Rights” where TikTok should have reached out to her for the use of her work and recognized her for it.
The moral of the story here is to accordingly protect yourself from being the object of misusing online content that rightfully doesn’t belong to you. If you are not sure, then you probably shouldn’t do it and you should proceed to employ the legitimate steps of achieving the digital content required.
Sherri Burnett – Communications and Relationship Director