Who really owns the content on your Facebook Business Page, Twitter feed or Pinterest Board?

This free legal information is made available courtesy of Counsel to Creativity.

Desiree Scales, CEO of Bella Web Design, Inc. here in Atlanta, interviewed me for her videocast series, The Bella Buzz (see video below), in pursuit of the answer to that very question.

Fair Use is (Part of) Why You Can Post Others’ Content on Facebook & Twitter

Due to the time restrictions on YouTube, we had to cut the discussion of Fair Use from the videocast.  Here it is in a nutshell.

Fair Use is an exception to the exclusive set of rights that vests in the creator of an original piece of work under copyright law.   When then is use Fair Use?

To use original work that is not yours fairly—or for someone else to use your original work fairly—the use has to meet a set of criteria about the nature of that use and its impact on the original.  It’s an analysis of facts that a court undertakes, and I’ll spare you the gory legal details.  Instead, I’ll give you a rule of thumb you can actually use.

1. How is the work used?  You are considered to have fair use of copyrighted work for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research.  Basically, you can use a work you did not create to inform or to criticize.

2. How much of the work is used?  To constitute a Fair Use, you must only use a small portion of the whole copyrighted work.  You want to only use a small piece of the work compared to the works actual size and not use the entire heart of the work.  When you look at how much of the work you use, you’re looking at not just the actual size of the used work as compared to the whole work but at how essential the part is to the original:  Did you use the heart of the original?

3.  What is the impact of your use on the market for the original?  If it has a negative impact on the market for the original, it’s less likely to be considered Fair Use.  A good way to this about this question is: Is the non-copyrightowner’s use taking place of the original in the market place or is it driving people to the original in the market place?

In our social media context, Facebook posts of content other than your own arguably meet this Fair Use standard.  You’re using only a small part of the whole in your post, you’re commenting or educating, and there’s typically a positive rather than negative effect on the original. (Your post is not taking the place of the original in the market.)

flower_icon_04Looking to change your business to better suit your life? Rebecca Prien also provides business coaching and business model design services through Ompreneur | The Yoga of Entrepreneurship.