As a follow-up to our previous post, How to Curate Content without Stealing, let’s take a look at why ethics needs to be taken seriously on social media by highlighting some consequences of copyright infringements.
(Image screenshot of listing on Content Curation Marketing.)
Before we start today’s blog post, I’ll like to thank everyone who responded so kindly to our last post. Thanks to Olivia Farnham for requesting to and reblogging my post on The Social Schoolhouse, Hannah Savage and Carolyn Hyams of FireBrant Talent for their twitter shout outs on both personal and corporate accounts, again to Carolyn Hyams for linking this post on her piece 10 essential personal branding tips for Twitter, Jessie Zubatkin for picking our piece on Content Curation Marketing, FifthBusiness for listing us in their daily.li paper, Comms in the News, under both their PR and Comms section and everyone who commented, reTweeted or did a shout out of my post. Thanks for helping FirstCommJob trend in the content curation section of Bottlenose. Cheers to ethical content curation!!
Time to cut to the chase, so…
Consequences of Copyright Infringement and bad Social Media Ethics
Reputation and Credibility
As a media and communications job seeker, your credibility is what will make or break your career. If you ever get caught stealing content (including images) off another site without proper credit, there goes your reputation. As Warren Buffet said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” Can anyone really afford another 20 years to build a brand new reputation?
(Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Depending on the country where the plaintiff’s and your business is conducted and the type of copyright infringed, charges will vary accordingly. Even if you get away with a small fine, a legal case is bad for businesses, be it yours or your organizations. From a public relations perspective, your job is to prevent crisis situations, not create one and a copyright law suit in my opinion is one of the most careless way to be throwing away your hard earned reputation and credibility.
Legal Case study
However, there have been incidents where copyright infringement can be forgivable from a public relations perspective (even if you can’t run away from the legal consequences). Few months ago, Singaporean celebrities-turned-business owners, Daniel Ong and Jamie Yeo, received a $3000 bill from Singapore Press Holdings for reproducing press coverage on his business site, Twelve Cupcakes and other social media accounts. Ong explained that he ”have never even heard about this rule…and really thought it was a mutual beneficial arrangement.” I empathize with Ong and Yeo, as it is common practice for Singaporean celebrities, models, actors and singers to repost publicity coverage as part of their online self-promotion and I sincerely believe that he didn’t realize he was infringing copyright laws. As explained by Ong in a Channel NewAsia article, he wasn’t “contesting the copyright law,” but instead seeks ”for more transparency” with regards to the usage of press coverage. Eventually Ong and Yeo took down the articles and was billed with an investigation fee of S$214 by Singapore Press Holdings.
As a journalist, public relations practitioner and marketing practitioner an up-to-date understanding of copyright laws is part of your job. How much do you know about the ethical use of user-generated content? When unsure of usage, do you have the habit of asking? Know your legal obligations, keep them up-to-date and when unsure, ask!
Lower Search Results Ranking
If your site depends on online traffic, copyright infringement can seriously hurt your business. One of the biggest search engine Google has taken a stern stand on piracy and copyright infringement by changing its algorithms to lower the search ranking results of sites that breach copyright laws. Factors that determine your search ranking includes the number of valid copyright removal notices and written requests by legal copyright-owners. I foresee a good number of photographers and artists will exercise their rights to prevent the unauthorized usage of their images, so will bloggers and writers with their content. For more information, here’s an article, Google pushes pirate sites down the search rankings by the Telegraph.
(Screenshot of Twitter Help Centre: Copyright and DMCA page)
Withheld Tweets, media or removal of content
Similar to Google, Twitter has a policy for copyright infringement. Basically, once a copyright infringement report has been filed, the tweet and/or media in question will be withheld during the investigation process. While it doesn’t have the same long-term impact as a lower search ranking result, the withheld tweet/media basically states “this twitter user is under investigation for content theft,” which in my opinion is far more embarrassing and worse for a practitioner and/or company’s reputation. For more information, visit Twitter Help Centre: Copyright and DMCA page.
What goes around comes around
This might sound a tad new age spiritual or religious but hello, Karma! I believe in treating others the way you want to be treated, and if you steal content off others, nobody will sympathize with you when your content gets stolen. However, if you curate content ethically with proper source credits, you build mutually beneficial and genuine relationships and others will curate your content ethically with proper credits in time to come. Remember, you can build an empire the honest way, where nobody can ever rob of you of your achievements, or lie and cheat your way and risk losing everything you build in a second via an exposé of your bad deeds. For readers who are choosing to build a new career, pick the right path early, choose ethics and hard work because the extra effort will pay off big time one day.
In this rapidly changing world of Web2.0, bad ethics will get to you sooner or later and having to edit existing online trails is a massive chore. We don’t know what new policies bigger players will dish out tomorrow, or if governments will enforce harsher laws that will affect your online presence, so be smart and start being ethical today!
Thanks for reading this blog post, and I hope you’ve found it both informative and enjoyable.
What are some other good reasons for respecting copyright and for upholding strong ethics? Have your efforts to go the extra mile paid off? What are some of your philosophy and thoughts with regards to career building? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Until the next post,