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No matter what online platform you are posting content on, copyright protections still apply. Social media platforms are a minefield for intellectual property infringements. This is because the internet allows content to be shared far and wide, sometimes without acknowledging the creator or owner of work. This creates copyright issues. This article will prepare you for these issues by discussing:

  • copyright ownership;
  • New Zealand’s Copyright Tribunal; and 
  • moral rights.

Copyright Ownership

Copyright automatically protects creative works. If you have copyright ownership, you have:

  • exclusive rights to profit from your work;
  • the right to decide who uses your work; and
  • legal protection.

Because copyright material applies as soon as a work is created, works posted on online platforms are protected inherently. You can mark copyright protected work with the © symbol. However, creators and owners do not have to use the © symbol. Therefore, you should not assume that work without the © symbol has no protection. 

What Does Copyright Protect?

Copyright covers a wide range of work. These include:

  • literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works; 
  • the typographical layout of published editions; 
  • sound recordings; 
  • films; and 
  • communication works.

Many works posted on social media fall under these categories.

Countries worldwide follow similar copyright conventions, which means that New Zealand law will likely still protect the work you create overseas. However, there are some differences across countries, so be aware of those when necessary.

There are some circumstances where a user can use copyright protected material without the permission of the creator or owner. These circumstances are:

  • research;
  • private study;
  • criticism or review; and
  • reporting current events.

If you are working under these circumstances, you may be able to use material without permission. For example, if you post about current news events or criticise a book on your blog, this will likely not constitute an infringement. However, you must use the work fairly.

New Zealand’s Copyright Tribunal

If you are infringing somebody else’s copyright by sharing it on an online platform, they may take legal action against you. Concerning online material, they may do this through the Copyright Tribunal. The Copyright Tribunal deals with:

  • copyright licensing agreements under the Copyright Act 1994; and
  • applications about illegal uploading and downloading of copyrighted work.

In New Zealand, it is not a valid defence to say that you did not know that the work had copyright protection. Therefore, you cannot make this argument in the Copyright Tribunal. If you share anything on an online platform, you have to adhere to copyright law. 

Moral Rights

One way to be sure you are within the limit of copyright law is to respect moral rights. Content creators enjoy moral rights regardless of whether they still own their copyright. There are four moral rights to be aware of if you use other people’s material on online platforms.

1. The Right to be Identified

This is the right to be credited for any work that you have created. This could be included in the caption of an Instagram post or a disclaimer at the bottom of your article. The right of attribution guarantees creators that they will be acknowledged as the creator no matter where others share their work. 

2. The Right to Object to Derogatory Treatment

This right is also known as the right of integrity. It is the right for the creator to object to any treatment of your work that could harm their reputation. This does not include others changing your work in a way you do not like. It does, however, prevent derogatory treatment.

3. The Right Not to be Falsely Attributed

This is the right not to have your name credited to work that is not yours. This can be difficult to navigate on online platforms because ownership can be unclear. This is especially true in New Zealand, where there is no registration of copyright ownership.

4. The Right to Privacy in Certain Photographs and Films

If a person commissions a photograph or film for domestic purposes, they have the right to privacy. This right to privacy occurs even for those who do not own the copyright.

Key Takeaways

If you are sharing content on online platforms, you should be aware of copyright issues. Copyright law protects creative material automatically upon publication. This means that much of the creative work you see online enjoys copyright protection. You can protect yourself from copyright issues by adhering to moral rights and asking for permission to use copyright protected work. If you need further assistance with copyright on online platforms, contact LegalVision’s experienced IP lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do to adhere to moral rights?

Make sure you are identifying the creator of the works you share. For example, if you share something on an online platform, it is good to identify the creator.

What is a copyright licence?

A copyright licence allows the owner of the copyright to permit others to use their material. 

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