The Art of Posting – Are you breaching copyright?


Social networking is increasingly becoming a daily ritual of many South Africans. According to World Wide Worx’s SA Social Media Landscape 2017, Facebook is now used by over 25% of South Africans, while YouTube has firmly moved into second place with 8,74 million users, well outpacing Twitter’s 7,7 million. Instagram now has 3,5 million users, growing the fastest at over 32%.

The primary purpose of social media is sharing content. Consider this: some 350 million pictures are uploaded to Facebook daily and all Facebook users generate over 4 petabytes of data every day.

The spurt in use of these channels has added to the concerns of intellectual property protection on the Internet and the complexity of enforcement.

Hugh Melamdowitz | Partner | Spoor & Fisher | | |

Right to license

The quandary over who owns what and how social media terms of use come into play are relevant questions in an age where what you say or sing can make you instafamous. There is the probability that as a member of Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you would have glided over the page and clicked on “I Agree”, that innocuously appearing prompt at the bottom of the screen, without reading the license agreements, terms of service or the privacy policies.

You may be shocked to know that by clicking on “I Agree” you have granted the site a license to use your creative work, photographs, written material, videos etc. and also granted them the right to sub license the use to other members.

For example, under Facebook’s current terms, by posting your pictures and videos, you grant Facebook “a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any Intellectual Property (IP) content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (“IP License”)”.

Copyright infringement

Under copyright law, unless the work was produced as part of your job, the copyright generally belongs to the

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Read this article by Hugh Melamdowitz, Partner, Spoor & Fisher, as well as a host of other topical management articles written by professionals, consultants and academics in the December/January 2017/18 edition of BusinessBrief.

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