Copyright rules and social media don’t mix

Imagine scrolling through Instagram and seeing your work was shared by a major company. Congratulations! Or maybe not. Tuesday Bassen was shocked to find her designs being used and sold by the company Zara, who was profiting from her work without giving any credit given to her. Since Tuesday came forward, more than a dozen artists came forward to support her and claim that Zara had plagiarized their work as well. Sadly, this happens to artist’s all over the world that use social media to promote and sell their goods. The copyright discussion rears its ugly head for the creative industry that continues to fight for their deserved rights.


Copyright, Social Media

Zara claimed that Tuesday’s work lacked distinctiveness.


What can you do to protect your creative work from the internet?

Many artists use social media to showcase their artwork and for good reason. It is easy to connect with other artists, engage with clients, test designs and most importantly, it’s free. In short, it’s full of opportunity. That means that weather you are a seasoned artist or someone just learning a new skill, Instagram and Facebook allow you to drum up an organic following regardless of your skill level. In this particular case, Zara argued that Tuesday “had no case because I’m an indie artist and they’re a major corporation and that not enough people even know about me for it to matter.” For those of us who create for a living, this brings up an interesting (and scary) dilemma. 

When you post photos and artwork on Instagram for example, you actually give Instagram the right to sell your work on your behalf. That might be a surprise to most users but it’s important to know what you expose yourself and your work to when you share it. It does not mean that other users can reuse or repost without your permission, as the work is still the creator’s intellectual property. However, to avoid conflict and protect yourself from copyright infringement, try adding a watermark or digital signature to your work, register your artwork with the Copyright Office of the U.S. Library of Congress, and always be sure to read and understand the terms/conditions of the platform you are sharing your work on.

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