There is no denying the importance of businesses today having a strong online presence. With more companies turning to social media as a way to reach and engage audiences, it is becoming essential to make sure one follows the correct guidelines and procedures to avoid copyright infringement.

At Larson & Larson we specialize in trademark and copyright law. We help companies prepare licensing agreements that protect intellectual property. While trademarks are an important part of intellectual property protection for brand and product names, copyrights protect creative materials you create, such as books, computer programs, audiovisual works, memes, blog posts, and music.

How Copyrights Work Online

According to the U.S. Copyright Office, when the “author” creates a piece of original work, it is automatically entitled to limited rights under copyright law—no paperwork is required for these limited rights. This applies to both published and unpublished works. The owner has the rights to reproduce the work, prepare derivatives of it, as well as distribute, display, and perform it publicly.

However, it is important to note that when you post your content on social media sites, you are agreeing, in most cases, to give the site a license to use the work. For example, Facebook Terms of Service currently state: “[Y]ou grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License).”

Copyright law includes an exception to the author’s rights to control distribution and reproduction, known as Fair Use. Fair Use, in some circumstances, allows the use of the copyrighted work without permission. The determination of what constitutes Fair Use is based on how much of the work is used, its manner of use, and how the use affects the market value of work. For example, someone can typically use the content of your copyrighted work if she is doing so for education or informational purposes.

Protecting Your Intellectual Property

Although many infringements are accidental and innocent, it is important for companies to be aware of copyright law and to properly protect their intellectual property. Otherwise, you run the risk of others stealing your ideas and passing them off as their own.

With more than 25 years of experience in the Tampa Bay, Largo, and Clearwater area, at Larson & Larson we are the copyright attorneys to call if you want to protect your intellectual property. Give us a call today for a consultation: 727-546-0660.