Using externally sourced content can be a great way to populate your social media pages to promote your business and build your brand – but they can cause issues if a creator feels their work has been taken unfairly and this can cause your business to lose reputation and goodwill. In some cases, you may even be liable under Australian Copyright Law.
It is a common misconception that if you have the intellectual property (IP) rights over a work that you can use and modify the work as you wish – but this is not the case. Copyright Law in Australia recognises the ‘Moral Rights’ of creators, which are not assignable and cannot be waived. You must therefore, obtain express consent to use works in breach of moral rights.
Attribution: It is always best obtain permission to use a work and to err on the side of crediting an artist or creator for their work. If you wish to use work without attribution – when engaging with artists, always ensure that you have a written contract that not only assigns intellectual property rights over to you, but also gives you express consent to use the content without attribution.
Modification: It is also essential that you include a clause allowing you to modify their work – even if intellectual property rights belong to you, if you modify a creator’s work without permission and this has some impact on the creators “honour or reputation”, you could also be in breach of moral rights under Copyright law. Even minor alterations such as adding a filter to a photograph could be considered a breach.
While you don’t commonly see artists pursue legal action in enforcing their moral rights under Copyright Law, it is good to take note of these laws so that you have some kind of written protection and so that both parties are clear on what your rights are in dealing with the images. It never hurts to have a few extra clauses in your contracts to ensure peace of mind for your business.