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TOP 4 IP issues on social media

Date: 08/29/2017
Social media is already a stereotype of contemporary society. It represents a mean of promotion, a tool of entertainment, but it can also lead us to unpleasant experiences if we are not paying enough attention to some particular aspects, such as copyright.

Below we've tried together with Paul Cosmovici, European trademark attorney and Managing Partner of Cosmovici Intellectual Property, exemplifying some of the most common problems that people may face in this area of expertise.

If I take a photograph on the street and capture, involuntary, some other people in my photo, is it illegal?


If that person is in a public space, you can photograph him. This is the first confusion that people are usually making. In the second place, if you take pictures of someone doing his job, for example, a politician who talks in public, a painter in his studio or a priest in church, in these situations it shouldn't be any problem if you publish those photographs on social media. But if you are taking a picture of someone when the person doesn't exercise public responsibilities, such as going shopping or when he's meeting with a friend, then you will have an issue.

There was a whole debate at some point about changing the terms and conditions from Instagram related to the fact that uploaded photographs on the network could be used by other companies for promotion purposes. What can we do in order to defend our copyrights for those photos?

One needs to review the current policy, what it conveys and on which country law it's based. In general, you will upload a photo on Instagram and expect to obtain some money afterward. When you create your Instagram account you agree in writing to give away your copyrights on the uploaded photos and Instagram has the right to use them for a non-commercial purpose, just for their promotion policy. If you are aware that they've started using them for a commercial purpose, like on book covers, within magazines' pages or associated to a brand image, then you are entitled to ask for money (compensation).

In Romania, if a content creator wants to sue an entity which has to infringe upon his intellectual property rights through social media, it is questionable whether or not he has the legal means to act upon it.

Usually, in very few cases the issue escalates to court. In most cases, the problems are solved through negotiation. You can ask if you want to be quoted as a source or to be given a sum of money, or for the content to be erased. In general, the issue is solved with one of these solutions.

There are situations where a person uploads a movie on youtube, erases the original from his personal computer and realizes that another person copied that movie and upload it on his own channel. In these circumstances, many people don't know what action to take.

It would be the best solution if the person whose copyrights have been broken to download the movie from youtube and send it to ORDA (Romanian Office for Copyrights) from where he will receive a proof of original creation. In legal terms, this is called certain date and it vouches who is the original author of the material in question.

Another scenario related to uploaded movies on social media is when someone films something in a public space, but in the background, you can hear a very familiar melody that belongs to someone else holding copyrights. What do we do the moment when that someone wants to defend his rights?

In this case, we're confronting with a very clear violation of intellectual property rights. Even if we are dealing with a derivative work, such as a movie segment using a very popular theme song or soundtrack, that song does not belong to us, and its author is fully entitled to ask us to either delete that sound from our film or to pay a certain amount of money. In most cases, the first option works best for everyone.

Facebook improves the copyright management with a new acquisition

It is commonly known that Facebook uses intelligent algorithms and artificial intelligence for many reasons, but most recent news is telling us they're using it also to prevent the infringement of intellectual property rights.

According to the most recent reports, Facebook purchased the Source3 start-up for a confidential amount. Source3 is a platform which recognizes, organizes and analyzes the intellectual property registered, which can be found on the user generated content via their technology of recognition of the elements. The company is dedicated to some industries such as? sports, music, entertainment, and fashion. It also holds an end-to-end type of platform, meaning that it covers all the processes' stages for the management of intellectual property in the online environment and it is used to facilitate relationships with brands.

The way Source3 works is based on matching elements found within the online content with those in the company database, signaling any content which might break copyright laws. Although it is not yet very clear how the platform will be integrated within Facebook's current functionalities, it's estimated to improve the option dedicated to copyrights, which is currently helping video creators to detect and report when content is published without their approval.

Plus, it's only logical for Facebook to use Source3's existing database to not only help the brands protect their content but also to generate additional income flows.

In a public statement, Source3 announced that they are « enthusiastic » to bring their « expertize in intellectual property domains, registered trademarks and copyright for the Facebook team and to serve their global community of 2 billions of users who are everyday consumers of online content, music, videos and other forms of intellectual property ».

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