For the last several weeks, my colleagues and I have been wrestling with the issue of intellectual property and where the line in the sand is drawn in terms of sharing content and images. The issue arose when a client asked us not to share anything on her social media platforms without replacing the preview image that accompanied the text, using her own purchased image instead.
When you’re sharing someone else’s content on social media, however, you’re doing precisely what the author wants you to do. They didn’t write it and publish it so that it could sit in obscurity on their website with no visitors and no traffic. They wrote it because they wanted it to be shared, read and seen, which is why you’ll often see an invitation similar to this on their site, requesting that you proliferate their content:
When you share a link, you’re not stealing content (even with the preview on your Facebook or Google+ page); you’re honoring the author by endorsing what they’ve said. Your message when sharing another blogger’s content is: “Wow. This is worthy of a read.” If anyone really does not want their content shared, all they have to do is ask for it to be removed. But can you even imagine that happening? (Please, don’t share the article I worked so hard to write; I want to remain unknown.) That being said, there are times when intellectual property rights do come into play.
If you are creating content for your site, you need to supply your own image (create one or take one) or use one from a free source giving the proper attribution. Free sources for images include: • Flickr • morgueFile • Wikimedia Commons • Stock.XCHNG The content for your site must also be unique. The biggest infraction of IP rights occurs when someone copies and pastes someone else’s hard work into their blog and uses it as their own. The rule of thumb we use here at Firebrand is that if we’re sharing and commenting on someone else’s work, we’ll use their image, either as a preview or as a full-size image, linking back to the source material and commenting on it. It gives them credit and allows our clients to share information that is relevant to their audience. If we’re creating new and unique content for a client, we use license-free images or create images to accompany the content.
What’s your take? How do you handle the issue?