Social Media Copyright

Earlier this year, the European Parliament voted in favour of Article 13; a copyright law that will dramatically impact the global digital content industry. Anyone putting content onto social platforms anywhere in the world, from broadcasters to brands, music labels to influencers, everyone will be affected by this law and the resulting changes to social platforms.


What is Article 13?

Article 13 is part of the new EU Copyright Directive which aims to create copyright legislation that is appropriate for our current and future digital landscape. This Article deals specifically with “online content sharing services”, or those platforms where users have the ability to upload content that they may or may not own the rights to. Examples would be YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and audio platforms like Soundcloud. The aim is to address long held concerns from traditional rights holders who own and distribute content like TV, film, music and sport, who have seen social platforms grow in part from unauthorised uploads of their content.

Right now if a rights holder wants to send a copyright infringement notice for unauthorised use of their content on a social platform they would send it to the uploader. Once Article 13 is implemented those infringement claims will all go to the platform that is hosting the content, and the platform will take on all liability.

Content sharing platforms will need to make technical and workflow changes in order to implement the legal changes that Article 13 dictates. It is highly likely that will be rolled out globally and not just for European audiences so we should all be ready.

Social video expert Liz Ferguson from The Flaxen shares her top 5 tips for future proofing your social content strategy and branded content campaigns.

Top 5 tips for future proofing your social content strategy:

1. Trusted partners and influencers

Rumours are that there will be a need for platforms to rank their contributors by how trustworthy they are in order to allow some content onto the platform immediately. Those less trusted uploaders could see their content blocked; either temporarily while checks are made or permanently if it is found to be infringing.

Sense check your collaborators’ past content to see if it all looks original. If you’re concerned about shared or derivative work, ask the creator if they own all of their content. Have they ever received a copyright strike or notice? You can also request a screenshot from a YouTube account to see if it is in ‘good standing’. Other platforms may well introduce a similar status e.g. for Instagram’s recently announced of ‘Creator Accounts’.

2. Longer lead times

There could be delays to uploading content while the platforms start to work through how to reduce their risk and guarantee creator ownership. If channels and pages really are going to be ranked by a trust score, it is likely that larger contributors will be prioritised e.g. broadcasters, sports federations, influencers with large audiences. Smaller influencers are likely to be most affected by delays while the process is being defined. Building in extra time and managing expectations will become more important.

3. Beware of the meme!

It is currently unclear how derivative works like memes and parodies will be treated by the new laws. The safest position is to not use any 3rd party content at all. If your content strategy is currently based on quick celebrity memes think about alternative types of content you can introduce now to wean your audience onto something that you own 100%.

4. Royalty free music

Pre-clearance of any 3rd party content including music will be an absolute must. Music labels have been instrumental in pushing through the laws and are likely to take a hard line on any unauthorised use of their tracks. Using royalty free music from services like Audio Network and Epidemic Sound will be the fastest way to get your content through any new music screening processes.

5. Licensed content

If the content is going to be distributed anywhere other than the creators’ own pages and channels, ensure you have a license in place for that usage. This includes asking an influencer for a version of their content for a brand to upload to their own social pages.

Keep an eye on the press for changes to the Article and news on how platforms will be integrating the new laws. Whilst platforms have two years to become compliant in Europe, this is not just a European issue. The changes will be global. Be ready for a fast beta test and a rapid roll out!

If you have any questions about social video strategy and digital audience growth, get in touch with Liz at The Flaxen.

More about The Flaxen

Liz Ferguson is a social video expert with over 10 years of industry experience. Liz founded The Flaxen in response to increasing demand from organisations and individuals to understand how to be better at social video, grow audiences faster and make social video a more valuable part of their content offering.