Intellectual Property – It’s a Real Thing! 10 Tips For Protecting & Sharing Ideas on Social Media

We’ve all felt it – that feeling of frustration and even a little anger when you see someone on Facebook, Instagram, or even in real life who has copied something you have done without giving you any of the credit. I know I have felt salty when I have shared an idea, and then someone else steals it and tries to pass it off as their own. I have even had many well-meaning people say to me, “well Avery, when you blog about your home, and you put your information out there, this is what happens!”

“Good artists copy; great artists steal.” – Steve Jobs

FALSE! You see, there is this thing called intellectual property. The definition of intellectual property is as follows:

“A work or invention that is the result of creativity, such as a manuscript or a design, to which one has rights and for which one may apply for a patent, copyright, trademark, etc.”

This means that when I share different words, pictures and ideas, I not only have an obligation to give credit to those whose ideas I have used, but that other people also have a duty to give me credit when they use my original ideas. This is something that I take very seriously, and in a world where social media is evolving more rapidly than anyone can keep up with, we each have a duty to educate ourselves, and follow a few easy steps in order to ensure we are maintaining our integrity as artists and social media users.

Let me be clear, as an artist, I love sharing my ideas with the world! I love when others use my ideas – it means that they liked something that I did so much that they want to copy it. My mom always said that copying is the highest form of flattery. When credit is given, it’s flattering. When one person’s ideas are taken and falsely passed off as another person’s ideas though, it’s called stealing.

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I have heard of some crazy things happening on social media lately (People using pictures of other people homes and passing them off as their own – (CREEPY!), stealing posts, stealing projects, etc.), and it makes me really sad because on the whole, I LOVE the the power that social media gives us all to easily share ideas on a mass scale. It only takes a few bad apples though to ruin it for everyone. That said, while some stealing of IP is purposeful, I believe that a lot of it is also unintentional.

In order to help those who maybe don’t know social media etiquette, or anything at all really regarding the laws surrounding this topic, I have compiled a few tips/guidelines in order to help my social media friends out. I also tried to give you some very basic tips that can help you protect your own IP.

WHEN SHARING OTHER’S IDEAS

  • Pinterest, Google, etc. ARE NOT sources. Do a little digging, and if possible, find the original source before sharing anything.
  • When sharing someone else’s images, words, or ideas – give credit to that person. If you have ANY doubt at all, give credit.
  • Be cognizant of the fact that providing credit does not always avoid copyright infringement. The holder of a copyright has exclusive rights to publish his or her work. Merely giving credit will not exclude a secondary user from a possible infringement claim.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to the original source! Most people are really cool about answering questions, giving permission for sharing their ideas, etc. JUST ASK – you may be surprised!
  • Realize that something as seemingly simple as a hashtag can be trademarked. Use common sense when posting anything on social media sites. You don’t have to be paranoid, but you do have to be smart.

 

PROTECTING YOUR OWN IDEAS

  • Realize that we all have great ideas. This doesn’t mean they are original – even if we think they are. This can be especially hard with sites like Pinterest. There is a fine line between a truly original idea, and tweaking someone else’s idea. Consider this before sharing and taking/giving credit.  If you decide your work is truly original, and that it is financially worth protecting, consider seeking legal counsel.
  • You can’t copyright basic ideas, recipes, or other fairly well-known information. If you didn’t take the picture, write it word-for-word, or come up with the project completely on your own, it’s not yours.
  • Register your domain name. If you don’t register your business name, it can get sticky if ownership is ever challenged.
  • Include a social media privacy policy on any social media sites. Be sure to outline how people can/cannot use the information on your site.
  • Put your logo/watermark on any and all original work that you share. This will provide extra protection, and can make it harder to steal your images/ideas.

 

Just realize, friends – giving credit to someone doesn’t devalue you as an artist. We all build on other people’s ideas, and we gather inspiration in different ways. It is important though that we give proper credit where it is due in order to honor each artist’s individual talents.

*DISCLAIMER: The information and materials on this blog are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Being general in nature, the information and materials provided may not apply to any specific factual and/or legal set of circumstances.  No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. Nothing on this blog is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. If you require legal advice, please consult with a competent attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.
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