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NYC Litigation Blog

Monday, February 15, 2016

Protecting Your Copyrights on Social Media

What are the copyright rules for social media?

As more businesses engage in the digital world, the risk of copyright infringement on the internet has become a significant concern for decision makers. In particular, businesses that rely on social media marketing tools to promote their products and services need to be aware of the fact that copyright laws are applicable on the web. 

In addition, companies that establish websites and conduct digital marketing need to be familiar with the existing protocols in place to protect domain names. The Domain Name System is managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a government sponsored entity that coordinates the designation of registered internet domain names under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).

 As for the use of social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, existing copyright rules must be followed as well. For example, a business owns the creative works that its employees create while they are working for their company. The creative of work of independent contractors and freelances can only be owned with a work-for-hire agreement in place. If your business posts comments on Facebook or Twitter, it is important to ensure that you own these works.

To some extent, businesses are protected from the potential of infringement lawsuits in certain circumstances. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides "safe harbor" to online service providers. It limits their infringement liability by requiring them to take down content that could violate a copyright if the owner sends a take-down request.

How to Protect Your Work from Infringement

In addition to avoiding infringement claims, business owners also need to protect their original content. In order to obtain maximum legal protection, it is essential to register your work with the Copyright Office.  By registering your work, you will have a number of rights, including the exclusive right to reproduce and distribute copies of your work. In short, proper registration establishes prima facie evidence of the validity of the copyright. This grants you legal recourse to bring an infringement lawsuit and obtain statutory damages and attorney's fees.

If your business is engaged in social media marketing, it is essential to understand the applicable copyright laws. A qualified attorney can advise you on how to protect your work from infringement, as well as how to avoid an infringement lawsuit.


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