Photo sharing app

Like, share, and subscribe! (But don’t get reuploaded by just anyone)

Getting your face and brand out there is critical for you, as an online content creator. So people sharing your content is great! But have you ever wondered where the line is drawn between sharing and stealing, when it comes to work you have posted online? In this article, we are gonna break down the marketing benefits, and the legality, of sharing and someone else reuploading your images.

Table of Contents

Sharing is caring

Hopefully, it comes as no surprise that using the built-in share functions on the large social media platforms are legal. The internet does make it easy to break copyright laws, but, thankfully, social media platforms don’t make it easier by reducing the matter to the click of a button. Essentially, sharing by using the built-in function is, from a legal perspective, seen as linking to the original content. Since the sharing function is set up to create awareness of what was originally posted and there are means to go directly to the shared content, there are no legal issues in play and you only benefit from your work being shared by others. 

The only possible hitch here is less to do with legality and more to do with “best practices”. Some people might not want certain things they have put online shared to wider audiences. If someone writes something very personal intended to inform their immediate network, signal boosting it is perhaps a faux pas. Not a criminal affair but potentially an ethical misstep. We are just bringing it up here because, while a CatchScan subscription is only meant to help give you an overview of where your content is used and give legal assistance with regards to illegal use, we do have a practice of being thorough. And, with this being an article about the pros and cons of the sharing of content, our thoroughness dictates that we also touch on best practices in your profession!

Speaking of cons, what if someone shares your work but in a very unflattering way? For example, Instagram permits users to share other people’s posts in their own story. However, they can also add captions while they are sharing your post. Getting your brand out there is usually great, but it is less great when someone adds text like “ew” or “check out this amateur’s absolute garbage work!” as they are sharing your content. There sadly aren’t any laws against people being mean on the internet, even though 5 minutes in most youtube comment sections probably make the idea  intencing. So long as users are sharing via the built-in function, they get to be as mean as they like, meaning there is very little you, we, or anyone can do about it. 

If sharing is caring, is reuploading caring?

The fact that it doesn’t rhyme is an obvious red flag! Joking aside: reuploading is slightly more complicated but, in simple terms, someone reuploading your content without your permission constitutes theft (Pinterest’s “pin” function represents an exception, here. For more information on Pinterest read this article).

Someone else reuploading without your consent gives their platform engagement, online traction, and, potentially, even add revenue. Even if they credit you clearly, it doesn’t inherently function as a link (like sharing does), and you could lose engagement, potential audiences, recognition, and add revenue as a result of the stolen material; that is why you are entitled to compensation and why you have CatchScan to help you protect your rights. 

Okay, so someone reuploading your images without your consent is clear-cut as an illegal act! But, going through this with our trademark #thoroughness, what about instances where you do give consent to the reuploading of your content? Well, legally that matter is a-okay. So long as you agree to have your content reuploaded to someone else’s profile/user, everything is fine. 

Why might you want to do that? It can be useful, if you, for example, collaborate with someone. Early on in your career as a content creator, it can be especially useful if you collaborate with a profile larger than yours, to help spread awareness of your brand. Maybe the other profile wants to create some buzz about the collaboration in an Instagram story or with a Facebook post, and you have an amazing image for exactly that. In cases such as that one, it could be really beneficial for you to give permission to let them reupload your work. 

All in all

In most cases, you have reason to be happy if someone shares your work using the built-in share function on a platform. Regardless of whether or not the sharing is done flatteringly, it is probably legal, though. However, someone else reuploading your content is illegal, if you don’t give them permission, and CatchScan is ready to help you pursue the compensation you are owed! However, in certain situations, you may want to give permission for the use of your work. Whether it is beneficial to you or not is a case by case matter. For more, about when sharing your work via others reuploading it, read this article.

Christian Bredvig Fjordside
Christian Bredvig Fjordside
Christian Bredvig Fjordside is CatchScan's communications consultant. His job is to talk to the legal department and translate the law jargon into what we fellow mortals refer to as "English".
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