What Celebrities being sued for breaching copyright laws on social media can teach us!

Charting topping superstar Ariana Grande recently got sued for posting a photo on her Instagram which was taken by a paparazzi photographer Robert Barbera. He claims Ariana has violated copyright law by posting a photo he took of her on her own social media. The photo was taken in August last year.

The photo, the photographer is referring to shows Ariana holding a bag with the word “Sweetner” on it. No doubt a nod to her album and tour of the same name. The post had over 3.3 million likes. Robert Barbera is asking for $25,000 plus all profits that Ariana may have potentially made from posting the photo.

Copyright laws on social media can be a bit confusing, so we spoke to Andy Booth, expert music and media lawyer at law firm SAS Daniels to try and understand what we can and can’t do on social media.

Ariana is not the first celebrity to be sued for doing the same thing. Gigi Hadid, Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian have all fallen foul of copyright law.

The Ariana Grande case highlights the issues and confusion surrounding social media copyright laws. With millions of posts being published every minute on social platforms, it’s easy to become complacent.

So what can we do to protect ourselves from not falling foul of copyright laws on social media?

“Even if you see a photo posted publicly to Instagram, Twitter, or any other platform, if you use it without permission, you could be breaching the copyright of the owner of the photograph (which is often the photographer) and face  legal consequences beyond being asked to take down the photograph.”

Twitter recently suspended a lot of big fan accounts in the BTS, One Direction and Little Mix fandoms for breaching copyright by retweeting or posting photos and footage of their faves that they didn’t own. In some cases, it was posts going back to 2013/14.

So when it comes to social media. Here are some tips:

  1. Receive Permission and credit the owner. If you don’t own the image or footage don’t post it unless you know who owns it and credit them as the owner of the image. The owner of the image is the person/company who took the photo or video, not the account who found it and uploaded it, that’s a really common mistake that people give the credit to where they found the image, and that can get you in trouble if they aren’t the owners.
  2. Use Images from Public Domain – Websites such as Pixabay and Wikimedia to name a few, offer images to use that do not have copyright restrictions.
  3. Know your rights on Social Media.-Might be a bit boring but it’s important to know your rights. Each site, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook etc have certain guidelines on the use of copyrighted content. Each social media channel has its own set of rules. So it’s really helpful to know what those are.

Let us know at @Fuzzable if you’ve have any questions about copyright laws on social media!

Written by Kelly McFarland

Likes to post in monochrome on Instagram.
Twitter: @kellymcf6
Instagram: @kellymcf6
Contact: kellymcfarland89@gmail.com

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