Magazine article Information Outlook

Complying with Copyright When Using Social Media: Your Social Media Guidelines or Policy Should Address Copyright and Be Revised Regularly to Stay Up to Date

Magazine article Information Outlook

Complying with Copyright When Using Social Media: Your Social Media Guidelines or Policy Should Address Copyright and Be Revised Regularly to Stay Up to Date

Article excerpt

Social media is new and uncertain territory for many of us, but one thing that is certain is that social media involves communicating and/or sharing a variety of content in a variety of formats and forums. With the rapid growth of social media, more and more libraries and organizations are developing guidelines and policies that tell employees how to conduct themselves when using Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, blogs, wikis, virtual worlds, and other channels.

This column focuses on one particular aspect of social media guidelines: respecting copyright. IBM's Social Computing Guidelines address copyright in a provision that states, in part, the following:

"Respect copyright and fair use laws. For IBM's protection as well as your own, it is critical that you show proper respect for the laws governing copyright and fair use of copyrighted material owned by others, including IBM's own copyrights and brands. You should never quote more than short excerpts of someone else's copyrighted work. And it is good general blogging practice to link to others' work. Keep in mind that laws will be different depending on where you live and work."

As you can see, the preceding paragraph incorporates many copyrightrelated issues that you may want to consider for your own policy. The issues are as follows:

* Determining ownership of content;

* Understanding fair use and its application;

* Obtaining permission to use copyright-protected content;

* Linking to content;

* International copyright law; and

* Record keeping.

Let's look at each of these issues individually.

Determining ownership of content. Determining ownership of content may take some investigation, time and creativity. If you are lucky, the copyright owner's name will be clearly marked on the content. In many cases, however, you will need to contact a publisher or Website owner or initiate some online searches to determine who owns the content. Websites often post content owned by others and may not be able to provide you with permission, but they can sometimes guide you to the correct copyright owner.

Obtaining permission to use copyright-protected content. Always assume that the content you wish to use is protected by copyright, even if that content is found through a search engine or does not contain the copyright symbol ([c]). Unless you have reason to believe otherwise, you should obtain permission before you use the content. Doing your best to obtain permission without successfully obtaining it does not permit you to use the content--you will need to use alternative content or, if the content is text, summarize the text in your own words.

Similar to using copyright-protected content in any other manner, using content in social media requires asking and answering a series of questions. Questions to ask include the following:

* Is the content protected by copyright?

* Are you using the content in a copyright-compliant manner?

* Is there an exception to the use?

* Does fair use apply, or is there implied consent?

* Do you already have permission to use the content through a previous permission or license agreement?

These questions are pertinent regardless of whether the content you are using consists of text, music or images. …

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