In what is becoming a bit of a problem on social media amongst both the weather community and news community at large — people are breaking copyright laws to post material on their own accounts. It should go without saying, but if you are in the process of creating media assets, there’s really no excuse to mess this stuff up.

How You May Be Breaking the Law

If you take someone elses material, be it a photo or video, and re-post it on your own social media account in a way that takes the control of the material out of the hands of the creator, you’ve infringed on their copyright.

You’ve also almost certainly broken the terms of service of whatever social network or website you are on.

For instance, if Joe Smith from Russelville, Arkansas captures footage of a wedge tornado crossing the road in front of him north of town — and you download that video and re-upload it to your account you’ve infringed on Joe’s copyright.

Another example, if Joe also takes a picture that’s truly dramatic  — and you save it and then upload it to your own profile — you’ve violated his copyright.

So far, some copyright holders have been awarded millions of dollars for violating copyright on social media.

If you work for a media organization or are an individual one (aka a social media user) you don’t want to cross the wrong lines. And quite frankly, you should know better.

How You Avoid It All

The first thing you can do is utilize the functions available on social media channels to share material on your profile. These tools retain the original ownership with the creator.

On Facebook, you can simply use the share button. This will share a video or photo onto your page or profile and you won’t be violating any copyright whatsoever.

Social Media and Copyright.

In this instance, the Tornado Titans page could delete the original video still and my post wouldn’t show it anymore.

On Twitter there are even more options. You can embed videos or pictures into your tweet and accomplish the same goals of making content look native (though it is considered nice to give credit in your tweet) — or you can quote tweet (my preferred method) or retweet material.

For YouTube videos, simply embed someone else’s work. There’s no reason to lift their video and share it on your own channel without their permission.

In all of these instances, the original copyright owner retains ownership and control of their content.

Also, in all of these instances, you get the same boost you are looking for completely legal and ethically right.

You can always get people to release their material to you for usage for free as well, which is the absolute best scenario. Though if you are a content creator, that’s a bad idea for a variety of reasons.

Don’t Be a Hypocrite

At the end of the day, you do not want to be someone who cries bloody murder if something of yours is stolen — yet your account is full of stolen material.

First off that’s going to hurt any claim of damage you try to prove in court, secondly its going to destroy your credibility.

We ran into a couple of issues with this in the earlier days of the Titans, especially when tools weren’t as good as they are now. We didn’t have major problems, and now we have some pretty strict policies on how to share content on our social channels.

For some insider baseball knowledge — sharing posts in this way doesn’t hurt your brand or accounts ability to reach more and more people. You’ll grow, have compelling content, and have zero problems with copyright law.

Share away, just remember to not upload other’s material onto your own profile. Its the law, after all.