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The 3 Factors to Consider Before Sharing Content

Every piece of content comes with its own set of copyright rules. And if you don’t abide by them, your brand could come under fire for a violation.

But with so much gray area, how do you determine the best way to handle each copyright situation?

Cision’s white paper, “The Professional’s Guide to Copyright Compliance & Fair Use,” provides tips on understanding the rules of copyright, avoiding violations and protecting your brand’s own content.

You need to consider each situation on a case-by-case basis. Here are three points to look at before sharing a piece of content:

Want more tips on staying copyright compliant? Read our free white paper!

1. Source of the information


Especially in today’s digitally-focused world, it’s easy to share photos, videos and more – without ever even considering copyright. You might not realize it, but you may be stealing someone else’s work.

Where are you taking the piece of content from? Who created it? If you’re copying someone else’s video or blog post to your page, you’re probably violating copyright. Use resources like Creative Commons or Wikimedia Commons to look for content that is licensed for sharing.

Consider the type of content you share as well. Copying someone else’s blog post to your own blog is a no-no, but retweeting their tweet about the blog post (with proper attribution) is acceptable.

2. Protections already in place

As soon as a piece of content is created, it comes under copyright. So unless you have specific written permission or have obtained a license, you can’t share content created by someone else.

There are, however, certain situations where it is acceptable to use the content. But to pass the test of Fair Use, you need to ask yourself these questions:

  • Will you use the content for commercial reasons?
  • Is the content an opinion piece?
  • Are you planning to copy the entire piece?
  • Would you normally have to pay to use the content?

If your answer to any of the questions above was “yes,” then you shouldn’t share that content.

3. How the content will be used


Think about your reasons for using the content. Are you sharing a video to drive traffic to your business? Your motives would be considered commercial. And commercial purposes aren’t looked at favorably in court.

If you are using the content “for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research,” then according to U.S. copyright law, your use would not be considered infringement.

Also, think about whether or not your use of the content will benefit the author. For example, republishing a blog post on your high-traffic blog could result in greater exposure for a lesser-known blogger. But sharing a blog from an industry influencer on your personal blog wouldn’t do much for the influencer. Either way, you should contact the author before republishing their work.

When in doubt about sharing a piece of content, check with the author and ask for permission. Or take the safer route and share content that you know is legal to share. One photo is not worth risking hefty fines and tarnishing your brand’s reputation.

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Images: Hey PaulVBC17Pictures of Money (Creative Commons)

About Maria Materise

Maria Materise is a content marketing specialist for Cision. Formerly a copywriter, she enjoys creating content that excites and inspires audiences. She is an avid reader, movie trivia geek, Harry Potter fanatic and makeup junkie..

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