Quickly summarizing the social media clubs session, last Saturday on legal aspects of social media. It was conducted by Poorvi Chothani of Law Quest India. It started with some discussions on Intellectual Property and Copyright.

“A copyright is a set of exclusive rights granted by a state to the creator of an original work or their assignee for a limited period of time upon disclosure of the work. This includes the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work. In most jurisdictions copyright arises upon fixation and does not need to be registered.” ~ Wikipedia

So am I violating Wikipedia’s copyright by producing a snippet of its content here without their explicit permission? Well I don’t think so on the grounds of fair use. Basically I am not exactly clear why its ok but from what I understand from the session its because my using this quote does not demote the value of Wikipedia in anyway commercially or otherwise. In all probability my link back will add to it. Also Wikipedia probably being an encyclopedia kind of material allows me to use it. So these are the kind of conundrums we discussed, stuff we take for granted but Poorvi strongly questioned, Why? And well I had no answer because we hardly ever bother to check the terms of service of these information platforms.

Similar questions arose about status updates and tweets. Firstly we need to determine whether the update is ‘copyrightable’ – if contested in court of law, judges would decide on the basis of originality, uniqueness, intelligence and other aspects. Once decided it is copyrightable then I cannot produce it here in my blog even if I give credit unless I take permission from the author!

Hyperlinking content is fine as long as we are not producing it on our blog. It also shouldn’t be produced by third party apps which sometimes show the preview of the link content – which would be a violation. The aspect about not producing the tweets even despite giving credit surprised me but it also makes sense. Ms Pereira also raised questions about RTing tweets, but we need to check Twitter’s Terms of Service before being more clear on that.

So basically Copyright depends on the country’s laws and the terms of the platform in which it has been published. So Tweets are dependant on Twitter’s terms of service and so on… It is because of these ToS that Twitter can grant the US Library of Congress rights to store the entire Twitter archive without asking all of us individually.

Another  interesting point touched upon was about Defamation!
The statements, rants and comments bashing brands up that are abound on social media is suable by the company. The company can ask the person to prove to the court why he/she has bashed the brand! Tough thing considering everyone is doing it so often!

I asked the law exp Poorvi a few more questions and arrived to the conclusion that from henceforth if I am bashing a brand I should keep it as a personal opinion as possible.
For eg: If I have a very bad time with Airtels customer service phone attendant then if I said “Airtels customer service sucks” then I can be asked to prove it, but instead if I say “Airtels customer service drove me pretty mad, I feel like taking a long holiday after ordeal” then well its my personal truth so that is not contestable in courts.

So basically the session was very interesting and I felt we had begun to think about some legal aspects. I feel this topic can be discussed in a lot more depth since as social media marketeers we are generating and recycling so much content that everywhere better ways of managing copyright would be very helpful!

All in all nice session by SMC and LawQuestIndia 🙂

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