SME owners on Facebook urged to understand copyright law

Category: News

One of Australia's leading social media law experts says SME owners are facing Facebook extinction if they neglect to understand the implications of copyright law when it comes to their presence on the social media platform.

In light of a story published recently on the Herald Sun’s website, My Business social media law expert Jamie White says that businesses that don’t understand copyright law and believe Facebook ‘mysteriously’ removes pages for no good reason won’t survive on the network when it flexes its muscles on the issue.

In the story linked above, Bill Tikos, owner of The Cool Hunter website, woke up to find his Facebook page was gone amid what he called unspecified copyright breach claims. White says Tikos did what most business owners do and blamed a draconian and unreasonable Facebook rather than themselves.

“It is up to the Facebook page owner to substantiate their entitlement to use material, either through a licence or because they own the copyright,” he explains. “The problem is that most business owners do not understand copyright law. Facebook pages continually reproduce content they have no legal right to, then they blame Facebook – which has an obligation not to authorise the infringement of copyright – when their page is taken down.”

Copyright breach is one of a handful of reasons Facebook can take a page down, often causing businesses to lose their social media communities plus traffic to their main websites. Tikos estimates Facebook pushed over 10,000 clicks to his site each day. While businesses must understand Facebook terms and conditions, White suggests that misunderstandings around copyright are rife.

“Business owners need to stop hoping the ‘Frankenbook monster’ won’t come to get them by hiding their heads in the sand and believing:

  • Ignorance is a defence in the law: It isn’t; the onus in on the business owner to understand the law.
  • Attributing work to the original author makes it legal: Unless you own a licence or the copyright has been assigned to you, don’t use the content.
  • Substantially reproducing a work refers to the quantity of material reproduced: Wrong again, it’s a matter of quality and not quantity. If you copied just the chorus of a song, it could be seen as substantial reproduction, for instance.

“There is only one way to be confident that you won’t wake up one morning to find the Frankenbook monster has eaten your Facebook community – get educated by seeking legal advice to help you understand the law.”

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