Beware: Facebook will shut down your page for copyright violations

In recent times, video has taken off on social media sites such as Facebook. Unsurprisingly, Facebook copyright infringements have rocketed too.

While you should definitely take advantage of video to engage your audiences, there are some copyright pitfalls that everyone needs to know.

Where do Facebook copyright infringements occur?

Facebook copyright infringements are found most often in the following media:

  • Video clips from TV shows and movies
  • Music which is used in video backing sound
  • Maps taken as screenshots from Google Maps and pasted into marketing materials

Licensing or written permission is required

“I thought it was ok as long as we’re not defaming the image…”

Unfortunately not. Even if you’re doing nothing but helping by promoting a song, you can end up in hot water.

When you do something as simple as pull an image off Google, add a bit of text on top and print it off to use as a flyer for your club, this could be illegal.

Anytime you copy an image/use a video/music to accompany your posts, you need to attain the rights to use this piece of ‘intellectual property’.

When using Maps in your marketing, you need to pay a licensing fee.  Some solutions, including Digital Stack, have options for a one-time map licensing fee that covers unlimited lifetime usage.

Will small businesses be pursued?

Although you might think no one will pick you up on it, there are people watching. And automated software tracking illegal usage. Facebook (which also owns Instagram) has developed it’s own copyright tracking system.  YouTube uses its own technology to monitor uploaded videos too.

Unfortunately being a small business is no excuse.  Pleading ignorance because you are not a media professional or copyright lawyer won’t stand up. While smaller businesses are probably less likely to be dragged through the courts to be sued, the social networks have a range of means to warn and penalise improper use.

Penalties

Facebook’s track record shows they don’t hesitate taking pages down, and can refer you to copyright owners for further legal action.

Michelle Phan, a popular YouTuber, used music as overlays for the start and end of each of her videos. Because she didn’t ask for permission by the label producing these songs, she was found to have breached Copyright laws with each violation potentially costing Michelle up to $150,000. Ouch! She ended up settling out of court.

Most small businesses have their pages suspended for a first offence and receive a notice from Facebook advising of illegal use of copyrighted materials.  Getting it back up usually takes days of back-and-forward re-authorising the page.

What can I do?

By no means does this mean don’t post your own stuff. Video is too effective to not use in social media.
Make sure the content you create is unique and individual to your business. Take images and videos around your business and share those instead.

With Google Maps (and other digital map providers), note that you should pay for licensing to use these in your digital and print marketing materials.