The social media law you might be breaking and don’t even know it

Here is an important Australian law you need to abide by when creating content for your business social media.

Social media law you may not have thought about

I remember the day clearly. The day when I sat in front of my beloved iMac and did it. I had just signed up to my first business social media account. I had put myself out there, ready to be seen. In fact, I had signed up two for the price of one. Facebook and Instagram. Hello world. I am ready for you to come and buy from me.

Fast forward over the weeks and months and I quickly learned that the secret to business success on social media requires lots… and lots… of content. Strategic content. Interesting content. Relevant content. Content posted in just the right way, at just the right time, with just the right hooks, hashtags, mentions, music and more.

To help with my content creation, I recently decided to upskill my marketing qualification by completing a diploma of social media marketing. The course covered the Australian laws that, as content marketers, we need to be across. Especially if creating and posting content on behalf of clients. 

This got me thinking. Does the average business owner, slogging it out each week to create masses of business content, know the laws that they should be abiding by? With the need to obtain content from vast and varied sources, how much of the content being posted is breaching Australian laws? Perhaps more than we think. 

Here is a summary of one of the key laws that all contrent creators should know about to be compliant and stay protected.

The social media law you might be breaking and don’t even know it. 

#socialmediamarketers #contentcreators

Copyright Act 1968

According to Australian Libraries and Archives Copyright Coalition, “copyright is an area of law that gives creators a bundle of rights to control how others use their creations”. Those creations generally cover things like written works, dramatic works, musical, artistic, recording, film and broadcasted works. As soon as content is in material form, it is automatically covered by copyright protections.  

Copyright and social media

How do copyright laws fit in with posting content on social media platforms? Unfortunately, this is not a straightforward topic. The Copyright Agency has published an excellent “Copyright Myths” factsheet here. Anyone who is responsible for posting content, particularly in a business setting, should look at this fact sheet.

There are certain circumstances in which material can be reproduced legally. It’s called “fair dealing”. This includes using someone else’s material for research, criticism, parody, and news reporting. In addition to this, if the works had been posted by the owner to a platform with a sharing function, this too will generally mean it’s ok for you to reproduce, or share, the material on your platform. In these circumstances, it’s best practice to reference the creator, and where possible, provide a link to the full works, particularly if you have only posted some of it. 

A good example is if you reference a piece of data on a social media post that is relevant to your business. You should give the data creator credit and if possible, link to the full study. 

Get licensed for copyrighted material

Get covered for licensed use of copyright materials

Photos, pictures and music form a large part of social media content for most business content creators. We love creating reels and TikTok videos backed by our favourite song. Photos and other imagery, as well as quotes and data references, form a fundamental baseline for most posts seen on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and more. So, keeping in mind that copyright laws exist, how do you legally post these works without having to physically create all your own original content?

The answer is to use a bonified platform with all the right licences and copyright processes in place. A great example is Canva. Their page on “Content licences and using Canva for commercial purposes” explains it best. 

Canva is one of several design platforms available to help content creators stay legal. When you sign up to their platform, they pass on to you the correct licence and rights to use the various photos, icons, illustrations, videos, fonts, templates, and audio content made available as part of your account. 

Don’t want to use a paid service? The various social media platforms can also provide you with ways to use content as part of your posts, whilst ensuring you do not infringe copyright laws. 

For example, Facebook offers “Facebook Sound Collection”. Facebook says ”Sound Collection provides high-quality music and sound effects for use on Facebook, Instagram or other apps owned by the Facebook company”. Take your audio or soundbite from here, and you know you’re covered.

Better safe than sorry

Next time you go to upload that inspirational quote, back that TikTok with Justin’s latest track, or grab that photo off your Google image search, ask yourself the copyright question: Am I breaching copyright laws by using this in my social media content? 

If in doubt, reference the owner and where possible, link to their complete work. For removal of doubt, examine the legalities of your content source and consider using a commercial platform that guarantees the right licenses are passed on to you. 

Content creators… examine the legalities of your content source 

#legalcontent #australiancopyrightlaw

Over to you

Have you ever thought about copyright laws when creating your business content? What tools do you use to create legally copyrighted content? Leave a comment below.

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Loren Turnbull is the owner of The Specialists – In Business.

When not indulging in her love of travel, motorbikes, or food, she is passionate about helping small business owners. Using the resources of her amazing Specialists team, Loren’s mission is to help clients kick butt in the business world.

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