Guides & Advice

Copyright confusion: three key things online content creators need to know

Published: 22nd January 2021
Area: Corporate & Commercial

Online platforms such as TikTok and YouTube have made sharing content easier than ever before.

From music and dance routines to video game streaming, people can now show off their talents to a global audience at the click of a button.

However, this can leave them open to copyright infringement, whether that be the infringement of their own work or someone else’s. So, what do content creators need to know before clicking upload?

1. Sharing is part of the package

Content creators must be aware that the purpose of these online platforms is for people to be able to share material freely. For this to work, the ‘terms of service’ and ‘community guidelines’ generally include provisions granting very wide licences for the platform and other users to share and reuse content posted on the site without further payment.

This runs contrary to the point of copyright, which aims to encourage creators to publish new works by enabling them to charge royalties if they are to be shared or reused.

2. You can’t copyright an idea

Users of these platforms should also bear in mind that copyright protects the expression of an idea and not the idea itself, so it can be hard to stop copycats taking themes from original content and applying them to their own creations. However, music and video material is capable of being protected if it is downloaded and distributed outside of the platform’s terms.

Read more about copyright and how it can be a valuable asset to your business.

3. Keep valuable content protected

Although the basic principles of copyright remain the same regarding online content, creators do not have the same leverage when trying to police their rights through platforms as they might enjoy against more traditional forms of infringement.

Therefore, for content considered valuable by the creator, it may be wise not to upload it to an online platform that encourages sharing, unless the creator is willing to spend money policing it themselves.

Protecting your intellectual property

The pace of change of content creation platforms means copyright law has been playing catch up for some time and will likely continue to do so for a while to come. However, it is not so much that the law has become unsuitable, but that such platforms have become so large that they have almost become untouchable. As such, online content creators must ensure they are aware of the risks they are taking when uploading their creations to sharing platforms.

Contact us

If you have concerns or queries around copyright infringement then our team of intellectual property lawyers can guide you through the process and advise you on the options available – contact Martin Noble for advice and support.

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. Visit SHMA® ON DEMAND.

Our free legal helpline offers bespoke guidance on a range of subjects, from employment and general business matters through to director’s responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring, funding and disputes. We also have a team of experts on hand for any queries on family and private matters too. Available from 10am-12pm Monday to Friday, call 0800 689 4064.

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