03 December 2018

Intellectual Property Rights and Social Media

Social media has fundamentally changed the way individuals, businesses and corporations communicate with one another. As a marketing tool, social media can be highly effective for businesses that want to share information, engage with their target audience and build their brand.

Whether it’s blogs, forums, or well-known social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube; social media is a way of life for many people and because of this, it looks like it’s here to stay.

Most of us who have used social media in either a professional or personal context will know that the main focus of these platforms is user-generated content. This has resulted in countless online communities of like-minded individuals who willingly share their information and ideas. Inherently, this is not a bad thing; in fact, it’s a great way to connect people and businesses who might otherwise be restricted by distance and/or time. However, the practice of using social media in this way often collides with the fundamentals of intellectual property rights, creating a host of challenges and issues.

One of the key challenges that social media presents is the risk of intellectual property infringement. It is therefore essential that businesses keep a close check of their own intellectual property and put measures in place to ensure that it is fully protected from unauthorised usage.

This unauthorised usage can materialise in many forms, one of which is the use of established brand names in usernames or hashtags. Brand value and positive brand association take businesses many years of hard work and resource to establish. However, in the digital age of social media, all this can become tainted within a few moments if the brand or business is referenced in a negative, factually incorrect or unauthorised manner online. This can potentially result in irrevocable damage to the corresponding business and brand.

Copyright law is also something that has become threatened by social media. With platforms such as Instagram basing their entire premise on publicly sharing photos, it comes as a given that using these platforms involves accepting that your content may be shared with people worldwide. This has resulted in many copyright violations and legal battles that involve the unsolicited use of individuals’ photos.

In this sense, for many creative individuals and businesses, there is a difficult path to tread; how to get exposure on social media platforms whilst also enjoying the exclusivity and associated revenue arising from copyright protection. Seemingly, sharing content online greatly increases the risk of copyright infringement. However, a properly maintained IP strategy that incorporates the risks of social media can be a powerful tool in stopping users who violate copyright laws.

At Mathys & Squire, we believe in effective systems that protect intellectual property so that innovators can be properly rewarded.

Get in touch  with us today for more information and to discover how we can help your business to devise an effective IP strategy that combats the risks of social media.