There’s a lot of content out there, and as a marketer/small business owner, you’ll want to use some of it for your own purposes. Collectively, we generate an enormous amount of images, music, sound and video across the Internet every day — Domo reports that every minute, users add 48 hours of video to Youtube, Facebook users share 684,478 pieces of content and Instagram users post 3,600 new images. It can be difficult to grasp the law regarding copyright and attribution, so here’s a look at how marketers can take advantage of the content out there while properly respecting the copyrights of their owners.
Long Form Content
Blogs are a powerful source of content and a common place where marketers fail to properly attribute content. For starters, if you decide to quote a blog, it is important that you actually quote it and credit the original author — but that takes more than just putting quotation marks around the idea. Credit the author and link back to the source post, at the very least. Be sure to check if the website you want to quote from has usage guidelines, such as those outlined by Hubspot in which a quote cannot exceed 75 words. For many blogs, a too-long quote will impact their search results and that’s the sort of negative outcome that is likely to lead to problems for you as a marketer.
If you want to use someone else’s social media content for your marketing, it’s easier than you might think. Attribution on Twitter is as simple as adding “ via @username” where “@username” is the Twitter handle of whomever initially created the content. Facebook makes it equally easy to give credit to the original content creator — the “Share” button will include the original URL, original sharer, and all those who have shared it as well. LinkedIn and Google+ require similar citation to share content, so be sure to always include the original content creator’s information on these social media sites as well.
Images, Video & Sound
How you attribute media content is more complicated than blog material, and your best bet here is to find and follow the respective owner’s particular rules for attribution. There is a tremendous amount of media on Creative Commons that can be used with certain caveats; some images can be used for everything including commercial purposes, whereas others require you to modify or adapt their content before you use it. One of the easiest ways to avoid the trouble of copyrighted material is to simply get your content from a stock material provider like Shutterstock, which offers royalty-free images, music and video.
The U.S. Copyright Office Fair Use Index offers you a chance to use otherwise copyrighted material in the form of commentary, reporting, education, archival, research and in search engine results. For marketers, there are few chances to really apply this type of fair use without getting creative. Perhaps you are generating content for a blog, and choose to review a film or book — this sort of commentary would be covered by fair use. However, the digital age has outpaced much of copyright law, so the final determiner of fair use will almost always be the courts. For the most part, stick to the previously mentioned methods to keep yourself out of trouble and always go out of your way to make sure that the creator of original content is acknowledged in your work.