Content posting rules for social media business pages - What can I do to stay safe?

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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needham
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Content posting rules for social media business pages - What can I do to stay safe?

Post by needham » Thu Aug 01, 2019 12:54 pm

Hello !

I am part of a small start-up and we want to create a Facebook page soon. I've found that the best course of action for us is to post funny, relatable content, and have found a lot of resources in format of memes and quotes. However I am not very educated about copyright laws, and I'd love it if you could tell me if I am safe, and if not, what I could do that would keep me as close to my plan as possible yet be legal.

I have gathered that it is an infringement to post memes for commercial purposes. The page itself would be the company's page, but the "memes" or "quotes" posts would not be promotional - for example, I would post an image of a drooling dog, captioned "when you're really hungry". The dog image would most likely be copyrighted as it would be a famous meme image. However, I would make no mention of our products or add anything related to our brand - it would be purely for entertainment purposes. Naturally the aim remains to build engagement, and later on I would start posting brand-related content, ensuring it would be 100% self-made content.

Would I be safe in this situation? Or would it still be considered copyright infringement? What alternatives do you suggest?

Thank you very much for your help and advice !

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AndyJ
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Re: Content posting rules for social media business pages - What can I do to stay safe?

Post by AndyJ » Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:47 pm

Hi needham,

Let's start with your statement "I have gathered that it is an infringement to post memes for commercial purposes". This is not strictly true. It may be that if you quoting a meme you could be covered by the quotation exception, although this is debatable. But with that particular exception there is no differentiation between commercial and non-commercial use. The main issue of being a commercial business is that if you do infringe, you will be seen as a more worthwhile target to go after than some penniless teenager.

The problems with memes and retweeting generally is that there is no real way of knowing whether the content you are copying has been freely released by the copyright owner for use in this way. Sometimes an image, for instance, is put out on someone's Facebook or Instagram and no real harm is done. Then the image goes viral and the copyright owner belatedly wants to try and monetise the use of his image. A typical case of this sort was the picture of the dress which some people perceived as white and gold while others saw as black and blue. Much the same can apply to the maxims and inspirational quotes which do the rounds.

Unfortunately I can't offer a simple guide on how to do what you want to do safely so as to avoid all chances of infringement. Well, I can, but that would involve not posting anything you don't know the provenance of, but that doesn't really meet your requirements.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

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