By: Brittany Kent
It’s essentially an universal rule not to copy other’s work without permission or proper reference.
Social media platforms have grown to have billions of users in the past decade. It a valuable tool to facilitate fast communication and exchange ideas; and it is a valuable tool for businesses - particularly small business interested in growing their brands. It may be impossible to have a business without the use of social media in the near future. With the core of social media’s success being sharing content, do owners of original trademarked content have rights in these virtual realms?
There are not many cases involving trademarks and social media because most are settled via alternate dispute resolutions. Some courts have created a model of what may be expected when a company is attempting to protect its’ trademark. eBay was sued by Tiffany Inc. in 2008 because items were being sold on the website using Tiffany’s logo or name to sell counterfeit products. The Southern District of New York held that eBay did not have to police it’s cite for improperly used trademarks but eBay had a duty to act accordingly when notified about illegal trademark use, as it had.
Twitter dealt with a similar lawsuit when a fake profile was created under well-known individual’s name. Although Twitter was contacted by the well-known individual on several occasions asking that the profile be removed, it wasn’t. Twitter lost the $32 million-dollar lawsuit.
Many social media sites have policies to protect copyrighted data. Facebook sometimes even removes homemade videos of users who use copyrighted music. Ultimately, if you would seek permission or cite the source in the offline community, it should make sense to do so online also.