With "May the Fourth" just past, it seems like a great time to talk about avoiding copyright infringement in social media posts on your business page. We recently discussed copyright infringement in another post, so this article will focus on the use of intellectual property, particularly content owned by major corporations.
So you see a meme featuring main characters from a beloved movie about another galaxy far, far away, or maybe the hidden wizarding world of the UK. Either way, you figure you can throw a catchy pop culture reference over the top and apply it to your own business. These sorts of posts undoubtedly attract engagement and could drive traffic to your business. You certainly can use the faces of copyrighted characters on your business page as part of a larger marketing strategy, but you cannot use it to sell goods or services. It's Schrodinger's meme: Both a marketing tool and not at the same time.
It's important to remember, should you choose to use a copyrighted character in a post on your social media channels, no where in the post or comment thread can there be an allusion to something you sell. This is an incredibly thin line to tread, particularly if your customers or potential customers take the commentary in that direction and you interact with them to that point. And of course you would want to, who would want to drop a potential lead?
You might feel like a small fish in a big pond who could never draw the attention of a large corporate entity to get caught in "minor" copyright infringement violations-- it's just a funny/cute post after all. Unfortunately, you would be wrong. It's precisely the large corporate entities that have the time to seek out businesses, large and small, infringing on their copyrighted work. These corporations have all the money in the world to go after you for unapproved use of intellectual property and it could cost you a lot of money, if not your entire business.
When creating content for or consulting with social media clients, I have a general rule to advise against creating anything that could be construed as copyright infringement, this includes mimicking a font or look and feel of an easily recognizable copyrighted product. You'll see this a lot on May the Fourth, when businesses post graphics that mimic a familiar yellow block font against a star spangled background.
So how can you get in on the fun of these engagement-driving memes and graphics? Share away, preferably from a non-commercial page, avoid all mention of sales and services and keep the copy lighthearted. If this all seems complicated and worrisome, give us a call and let us take care of your social media content. We'll ensure everything posted is in keeping with copyright laws and keep your marketing strategy on track.
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