By Attorney Kelly Jesson
While surfing through social media, have you ever seen someone post a photo or video set to music and add the caption “I do not own the rights to this music”? We assume people are doing this in hopes of getting around copyright laws. We assume they think that, by disclaiming ownership, they won’t get in trouble, but that is incorrect.
A copyright protects an original work of authorship, whether in writing, video, or audio form. A person infringes on a copyright if the person uses the work without permission, even if they put out a notice that they don’t own the music. To be clear, simply using the work is infringement; not pretending you created it.
A copyright owner can seek damages if you use its work without permission. There is a narrow exception called “fair use,” but it only applies when people use a work for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Most social media posts are not going to fit into this category.
Also, taking a picture from someone else’s website or social media and sharing it yourself is also copyright infringement. You may have heard of celebrities getting sued for posting pictures of themselves that someone else took.
Bottom line: If you didn’t create it, don’t post it without permission. If you have any questions about getting a federal copyright for your original work, please give Jesson & Rains a call!
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