February 9, 2024
Chances are, if you’re reading this, then you are either interested in the ecosystem of influencers, or are in the orbit of being one yourself. Join Copyright Agent and explore the essential steps influencers can take to safeguard their creative content in the digital realm. From understanding copyright basics in our copyright education section to practical strategies for online protection, this article empowers influencers to fortify their digital kingdoms against copyright infringement.
So if you are having problems with image theft then this guide is for you!
The term “Influencer” exploded onto the scene in 2016, soaring up the Google search rankings ever since. Used to describe a new type of content creator, distinct from the photographers, filmmakers and artists of the past, one who leverages digital platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Tik Tok to build up substantial audiences outside of traditional channels.
The growth of influencer culture has caused a seismic shift in the traditional media paradigm.
The ability to offer niche content and expertise often combined with a captivating public persona means influencers have an ever increasing influence over how consumers behave, and how brands are perceived.
This type of specialised content has been facilitated by the democratisation of content creation that the social media has allowed, the two are inextricably intertwined and have grown hand in hand in importance. The unparalleled authenticity that influencers offer their audiences coupled with a position as effectively gatekeepers in between brands and their target consumers, means they have become pivotal in contemporary brand marketing.
Influencer content is therefore valuable to brands with many influencers being paid well to create exclusive sponsored content.
Copyright is a legal concept that grants content creators exclusive legal rights over their own original works, such as:
Copyright protection is automatic upon the creation of original works. There are no formal requirements that the content creator formally registers their works in order to be legally recognized as the rights holder.
As soon as a work is created and fixed in a tangible form, such as writing it down or capturing it in a digital format, it is considered copyrighted. I.e You take a photo and you are the copyright holder to it.
Copyright law protects many types of works, the most relevant to influencers are photographs, videos, written content, and artworks.
Wherever you are based the basic tenets remain similar but we always advise researching local copyright laws.
So, in the era of influencers, the importance of safeguarding creative assets in this modern digital landscape cannot be overstated.
Influencers make a living from the content they produce. As such many invest significant time, resources and effort into crafting the compelling content that we all consume on a daily basis. This content, encompassing stunning photographs, immersive videos and compelling narratives is all protected by copyright law but that doesn’t stop image theft and digital asset protection is fast becoming an essential part of content creation.
So, in the era of influencers, the importance of safeguarding creative assets in this modern digital landscape cannot be overstated.Influencers make a living from the content they produce. As such many invest significant time, resources and effort into crafting the compelling content that we all consume on a daily basis. This content, encompassing stunning photographs, immersive videos and compelling narratives is all protected by copyright law but that doesn’t stop image theft and digital asset protection is fast becoming an essential part of content creation.
We’ve identified four key reasons why you’d want to seek copyright protection, because ultimately it is you, the creator who pays the cost of not protecting your work:
Damage to Reputation - You decide where your work is going to be used. Brands using your work can become associated with the work, brands you, as a content creator do not endorse
Devaluation of Work - If many people are using your work without authorisation then potentially this saturates the market causing your work to lose its unique appeal that drives people to your social media
Emotional Distress - Essentially you created a work and it’s a deep expression of your creativity. If people consistently take your works for their own gain and you don’t profit from them this can lead to a feeling of having your rights violated affecting motivation to keep producing content
Loss of Revenue - Using your works without your permission denies you the opportunity to profit from the fruits of your labours
There is a fairly common misconception about copyright law that suggests that once something is publicly available, it can be freely used without consequences. This is fundamentally wrong.
This perception leads individuals to believe they have unrestricted access to such content to publish with impunity and is a misinterpretation of the principles of copyright law. The simple act of a content creator publishing a work does not, in any way, forfeit any of their rights. Ownership of the content still resides with them, as do the fundamental rights to control where their work is published.
Publishing this content then constitutes copyright infringement for which creators have a right, in many jurisdictions, to claim recompense for alongside any legal ramifications they chose to seek. Ignorance of copyright law is not a valid excuse for infringement as website owners, companies, and other content creators are responsible for understanding and respecting the legal framework that governs the use of other people’s intellectual property. It is not just companies that must adhere to copyright law.
Unfortunately these laws existing does not mean that everyone adheres to them. Copyright laws around the globe need enforcement to actually be effective at deterring unauthorised image use.
There are many forms of copyright infringement out there, but three of the most common ones, that affect influencers are:
If you find copies of your works published elsewhere without your permission then an important point to establish is whether that use constitutes “Fair Use”. It’s important to note that ‘Fair Use’ is a legal concept that exists solely within the copyright laws of the United States, codified in Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, “Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair Use” although other countries have similar concepts.
In layman's terms there are some exceptions to copyright law, namely: Educational use, use in News Reporting, use in Parody or Satire and Non-commercial Personal use, to name a few.
However, “Fair Use” is not automatic. To take an example, a website publishing your image in a “news” article isn’t automatically an exemption from copyright law. Questions need to be asked, i.e. are they a news organisation? Was the image essential to convey the news, is the image related to current events etc.
And remember, ‘Fair Use’ offers some valuable exceptions to copyright law, but it is not a get out of jail free card for the unrestricted use of copyrighted material. If third parties are continually publishing your copyrighted material and claiming ‘Fair Use’ then that use may actually not be so fair.
So, you’ve established that your content is being used without your permission, or you are curious to find out if it is being used by others.
What are the next steps you can take to stop your images being stolen? How do you protect your content?
Here are some top tips on how to implement image protection, video protection and text protection into your day to day content creation schedule.
For more tips and in depth strategies check out our Top 5 Time & Money Saving Legal Tips for Content Creators, or our guide to Copyright Protection Strategies for Visual Content Entrepreneurs in 2024 or our Guide to Safeguarding Your Images: 10 Essential Tips for Photographers to Protect Their Copyright.
So, you've discovered that others are stealing your images, republishing your videos or using your content to their benefit without your authorization and you're eager to address the issue. What steps can you take to stop people using your content?
This choice essentially boils down to three options.
How you choose to proceed is up to you, but knowing that there are options out there to take back control over your content and asserting your rights as a content creator all helps to strengthen your digital fortress and protect your ecosystem of originality, especially if you’ve found your stolen photos online published without your consent.
The proliferation of social media platforms and the ease of content sharing have really exacerbated the problem of copyright infringement, making it imperative for influencers to take proactive measures to safeguard their creative assets. Failure to do so not only jeopardizes the integrity of their content but also undermines their credibility and potential for monetization.
Copyright protection is an integral part of any influencer's digital success and should not be overlooked. It fosters a thriving digital ecosystem of originality founded on integrity and respect for intellectual property and it's crucial to understand and respect copyright law, especially in the digital age where ownership lines blur due to easy information sharing. Dispelling the notion that publicly available works are free upholds creators' rights and fosters respect for intellectual property.
So empowered with these comprehensive copyright protection strategies, influencers can navigate the digital landscape with confidence, preserve the integrity of their creative works and assert their rights as content creators.
Copyright Agent - www.copyrightagent.com