Social Media Law

Given the ethos of social media as a platform for sharing ideas, business owners and employees need to be alert to inadvertent copyright infringement issues.

Just as you would not copy material generated by others in a physical book, it is important to remember that copying digital information without consent may well amount to copyright infringement.

Common examples of potential copyright infringement traps to avoid are the copying of images online, copying of material such as the contents of blogs or social media posts that you have seen elsewhere. To avoid copyright infringement, it is best to share a link to an existing blog, or share a social media post.

Even in our own business, we have had situations where the material that we have generated online, has been copied and posted as the material of someone else.

We have also come across the situation where people find memes online, add to their branding or business name to it, and then repost it as their own. This amounts to copyright infringement, unless they have written permission to do so.

It also appears that there is a common misconception that material which is sourced online, but the author of which is difficult to determine, is not under copyright protection. I have even come across people posting online that such material is known as “orphan copyright material” and in the case of computer programs “abandonware” and is freely available for anyone to use. This is a myth and is not correct under Australian law.

Any time someone creates new written, audio, graphic, computer program, etc. material they automatically own copyright in such material (unless they are modifying the material under a creative commons licence). This applies whether or not they state that they are claiming copyright in such material.

Unauthorised copying of such material will amount to copyright infringement.

To avoid others copying your copyright material, we recommend that it be properly marked with the copyright Symbol © and the dates of first and last creation.


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