Social media has changed the way marketers promote their brand. From traditional marketing tactics involving branded content to modern-day UGC marketing, social media has evolved as the most used marketing platforms for all the brands and marketers.
As social media is rich in user-generated content, brands have started leveraging this social content to power up their marketing campaigns. But the question is, "Is it legal to use a user's social media content without their permission for your profitable purposes?"
The answer is a big "NO." Many legal complications might surround your brand if social media content is not used rightfully. Let's find out what these legal issues are. But first, let us understand what social media content rights are.
Social Media Content Rights
Rights inherited by users for the content they have posted on their social profile, which grant them the legal copyrights of their created content, are termed as Social Media Content Rights.
These rights restrict the brands or companies to use the content created by their users without acquiring their legal permission. Legal permission means lawful consent from the content creators providing users the right to reuse their content for their promotional activities and campaigns.
Why is it Imperative to Focus on Social Media Content Rights of the User?
User-generated content is all around the social media channels. Be it Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, UGC is rolling into all the users' feeds and is grabbing their attention.
The best part is this UGC is free to use, but the worst part is that brands or companies cannot use it freely.
A little bit confusing. Right?
Let us understand it this way.
Certain laws protect the rights of the users and the content that they have created. For this very reason, brands should consider asking for permission from the content creators to use their content for their purposes.
Sometimes, brands fail to understand these legalities, which drag them to unavoidable situations such as copyright infringement issues, penalties, privacy issues, and a degraded brand image.
To avoid such situations, brands should practice social media content legally and rightfully. Before moving ahead to know about these lawful ways, lets us learn about some important factors that should be considered while using your user's social media content.
- Permission given to one brand does not imply that everyone can use it. It means that tagging one brand does not give a legal license to reuse anyone else's content.
- The marketers often misunderstand the "Fair Use" doctrine by the US, and they take it as a defense tool for breaking the copyright issues.
- Use of your brand's hashtag does not give you the sole right to reuse the content, i.e., it's wrong to assume the use of a hashtag as consent to reuse the content. Brands need to ask for legal permission to use the content.
Ways to Use User's Social Content Rightfully
1.Present Clear and Comprehensive Terms and Conditions
As a brand, you should create clear terms and conditions prior to the hashtag campaign you are about to start. These conditions should be specific to the campaign so that anyone who will participate can have a clear view of what you intend to.
Also, make users aware of the terms and conditions by directing them to the policy page before they participate.
3.Ask for Permission before Publishing via Comments.
Ask for permission from the creators before publishing their content. This can be done in two ways.
Commenting on the desired post, asking them to add a specific hashtag to it. Once approved, you can reuse the content legally.
You can also message them directly, asking them the rights for reusing the content. The message should include the reason for reposting the content.
For both ways, remember to acknowledge the content creators' work and give them the credits for the same.
4.Get Legal Proof of Permission Granted.
It is better to have legal proof of the acquired permission for any future complications. Brands can use third party rights management tools to acquire user's rights legally and rightfully.
Known as explicit consent, you need to provide users with a valid reason to reuse the content. Once they approve your request, you can legally publish it for your motives.
The brands must comprehend the rights possessed by the users for the social media content they post. For this reason, brands should consider asking for permission from these content creators to avoid getting trapped into legal troubles and maintain their dignity in the marketing ecosystem.