Generally speaking, intellectual property is any human-intelligent product protected by law from unauthorized use by others. The concept of intellectual property is that certain products of human intelligence must grant the same protection rights as physical property. It protects all original works, such as literary and artistic works, Images, symbols, inventions, computer codes, designs, names, etc. Trademarks, Patents, and Copyright are all areas of intellectual property law that exist to safeguard creators. Understanding how trademarks, copyrights, patents, and trade secrets work and are formed is essential for knowing how to protect these valuable assets of the company. To facilitate innovation, intellectual property must be safeguarded. The lack of intellectual property protection would prevent individuals and companies from gaining the full benefit of their creations. This would lead to a lack of focus on research and development. In the theory of intellectual property, certain creations of human intelligence are given the same legal protection as tangible assets. In most modern economies, both kinds of property are protected by law.
According to the WTO, “Intellectual property rights are the rights given to persons over the creations of their minds. They usually give the creator an exclusive right over the use of his/her creation for a certain period of time.”
According to WIPO, “Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names, and images used in commerce.”
Social Media and Intellectual Property
People choose to engage in the world we live in through social media. Social media platforms have developed an online community that is neither limited nor defined by physical presence. Creating an online presence is becoming increasingly vital to everyday life as the world enters the 21st Century. The social media revolution has been shaped by everything from simple comment sections to modern texting applications such as WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Nowadays, social media platforms are the most widely used source of data. They focus on offering information in various forms, such as images, audio, writings, videos, etc. Content creators promote their work on social media platforms to capture the public’s interest and attention.
People often assume that all data found on the internet is public domain. Any photo, video, blog post, or piece of writing posted on a social networking site is copyrighted work and it cannot be used by anyone else without their permission or license. Anyone does not have the authority to use someone else’s work without credit just because it has been published on a social media platform. For instance, anyone can repost a meme that someone makes and upload it on Twitter. However, suppose someone simply copies the meme without giving credit and posts it on their page or perhaps somewhere other than the platform itself. In that case, that is probably a violation of the forum’s terms and conditions.
Social media has endless potential as a digital medium for circulating content made by a person. Since it is so easy to share intellectual property through social media platforms, there is a risk of it being misused or violated. IP infringement on social networking sites is common in the modern digital era. Any digital content creator has rights that fall under the purview of copyright law, and it is essential to safeguard those rights. The mass-sharing aspect of social media makes it difficult for owners of intellectual property to keep track of such infringements. When they do, however, this law can be utilized as a tool to prevent sharing or any infringement on patents, trademarks, or other intellectual property. It provides a wide range of rights to the owner, including the right to register complaints, ask for compensation, and remove content.
Case laws related to Intellectual Property and social media:
The Court held in Living Media India Limited &Anr vs AabTak Channel (John Does) &Ors., 2002 that the name AajTak is well established and that the television channel is one of the nation’s most popular news channels. It is critical to protect this mark. As a result of its order, the Delhi High Court ordered YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to remove nearly 30 accounts, channels, or profiles with deceptively similar logos to “AajTak”.
Another case, according to Lexology, involved Gigi Hadid’s Instagram account, in which Xclusive-Lee, Inc. sued her for infringement over a photo she posted. According to XclusiveLee, Hadid shared the image in October 2018 “without the permission or consent of Xclusive,” in violation of Xclusive’s exclusive reproduction and distribution rights.” Also, Hadid is accused of knowing that copying and posting photographs without a license constitutes a violation of copyright. To support this argument, Xclusive discussed another “nearly identical” case of copyright infringement in 2017, which similarly involved Hadid’s social media posts. There are many instances where major social media platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Facebook, remove content that violates the IP rights of content owners. These platforms have clear policies and procedures in place to safeguard the rights of IP owners and remove any potentially copyrighted material they may be publishing.
Some links to the IP policies of these platforms:
Instagram: IP policies
Twitter: IP policies
Facebook: IP policies
YouTube: Copyright policy
The intellectual property rights of content creators are increasingly at risk as TikToks, Reels, and Vlogs spread on the Internet. Content creators can secure their original work by enforcing their IP and registering it. Online names, logos, names of series, and hashtags can be registered as trademarks. Copyright can be used to protect original films, videos, pictures, written texts, artwork, recordings, and other creative works. However, it is important to keep in mind that social media sites can only be held liable for IP violations to the degree that IP holders are careful in protecting their rights and notifying intermediaries of any violations. Courts have repeatedly ruled that intermediaries can only be held accountable when individuals provide them with the information they need for a successful takedown. Although most networking platforms concentrate on sharing content, that content may not always be free to access and share with others. One should therefore exercise caution while posting to social media in order to prevent having your post deleted or being banned from platforms. Also, if anyone ever experiences an infringement of their intellectual property, they can always seek legal help.
Author(s) Name: Simran Chaudhari (Mumbai University)