In this article, I share my thoughts on the do’s and don’ts when posting and sharing photographs on social media. My goal is to help you understand what is allowed and what is copyright infringement. Thus, protecting you and your business from potential loss of account or, worse, a lawsuit.
Nearly all my clients receive an organic social media usage license when they commission any shoot. Some clients need “paid social advertising” usage, and they pay a little more for that. Sometimes to save money, a client will opt for the social media usage to be restricted to a single platform or limit the number of years.
So what’s included in that social media usage fee? And what’s the difference between sharing and reposting?
Let me explain.
Social Media Usage License
An organic usage license allows for posting photographs we’ve created for you to any social media platform an unlimited number of times. (Most of my clients opt for the no time limit unlimited platforms)
This usage is for just your business. Only you or your agency can post the images to your account. The photos cannot be reposted by other vendors, companies, or even the marketing agency without permission from me.
However, sharing a post is okay and totally within the spirit of social media.
On Instagram, anyone could share a post you make with my photography to their Story feed by hitting the little paper airplane icon.
With Twitter, retweet to your heart’s content.
And on Pinterest, pin it and forget it.
THIS TYPE OF USAGE IS ALL COOL 😎
Reposting is not cool and also illegal.
Downloading a photo via screenshot, reposting app, or other means and creating a new organic post on social media is not okay ever. Reposting a photograph to an account for commercial purposes is stealing and is defined as copyright infringement by US Law.
Side note: Adding a credit or mention doesn’t make it okay.
If you steal a car from a dealership, does it make it okay to drive it if you put a sticker on where you got it? The same thing goes for photography. Just because you credit someone doesn’t mean you have their permission to post it.
Be Smart About Social Media Usage
Please be aware that reposting organically or paid is illegal. Any photographer has the right to claim damages for the infringement. They can also notify the social media platform of copyright violations. If you get too many violations, it could lead to your account being shut down.
If you do this or one of your partners recommends this practice, stop now before a whole mess of problems comes your way.
A good rule of thumb is, “Just ask for permission” Sometimes, the photographer will give it to you free. Sometimes there will be a licensing fee. But, a small licensing fee is a lot less expensive than a lawsuit or a shutdown account.
I hope that makes sense. If you have any questions about social media usage, please let me know in the comments below.