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Hey Marketers, Avoid these legal pitfalls!
Contrary to popular belief, what you don’t know, CAN hurt you. This statement is especially true when it comes to creating marketing content and the laws around it. Below there are three common legality problems that come up when marketers are creating content, but don’t worry, we’ve included some solutions for you as well.
Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright protects original works of authorship including pictures, music, and artistic works, but does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation. Because work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that is traceable, it can be a risky task to maneuver.
As marketers, we love to use pictures, so it is important to use pictures that are not copyrighted. One company was alerted that they had used a picture on their site that they didn’t have the rights to, and even after immediately taking it down once alerted, they were fined $4,000. It can be a risky and expensive tactic.
Even the internet phenomena memes can be copyright infringements when it includes a picture of a movie or song, so be aware when using these in email campaigns or on websites.
Create your own images. It is very easy these days to grab a camera or phone and take, edit and upload your own pictures that showcase your company or products. Customers also value the genuine side of a company that these pictures provide. They aren’t posed or stock photos but “behind-the-scenes,” personal pictures that can relate to a customer’s own life.
There are also simple graphic design tools such as canva.com where marketers can create their own designs for blog graphics, presentations, social media, flyers, posters, invitations and more.
Problem: Video Streaming.
Streaming video without planning is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Live streaming has grown exponentially the past couple years. Live streaming provides an outlet for viewers to watch news or events as it is happening, and it often automatically notifies them to watch. Without planning, there are elements within a video background that can unintentionally show another company or include people who did not give their approval to be filmed. Ever wonder why “COPS” always blurred out logos and brands of people that they were talking to?
Plan your live video stream as carefully as you would plan a video shoot. Ask yourself, “What can you see?”, “Is there any confidential information anywhere or copyrighted content?”.
Make sure to get a signed release from everyone in the video— even if their face is shown for only a moment. If you are filming in a crowded setting, post a crowd release. A crowd release notifies that video shooting is happening in that area, and if someone goes into that area, they are giving consent to a company to use their faces for advertisement.
Problem: Using Influencers, Brand Ambassadors.
Three years ago, there were no laws about influencer marketing or using bloggers to promote a product because it wasn’t that prevalent. Because of the rise in popularity of brand ambassadors, the FTC has cracked down on clarifying the laws when it comes to companies paying for individuals to post their products on their personal channels— such as blogs or social media. Recently, the FTC has clarified that it needs to be clearly stated if an influencer gets compensation for a picture/post that they publish and that there is a relationship between the company and ambassador.
To be FTC Compliant, companies must require influencers or brand ambassadors to clearly disclose that they have been paid for their post. This doesn’t have to be any kind of lengthy post but simply putting (AD) at the end of a tweet, or posting a comment on a Facebook post that makes it apparent that there is a relationship. Many companies have contracts with the ambassadors that states the ambassador must include this. The FTC won’t come down on the influencer; they will come down on the company instead, cutting it off at the source, so make sure to be careful!
When creating marketing content, take risks in creating it, but not unnecessary risks. Follow these solutions to save time and money for your company in situations that you may not have thought about before.
Notice: No animals were harmed in the creation of this blog post. This is posted with the express written consent of Hannah Taylor, LLC. Reading this post more than 100 times may result in fatigue in increased knowledge.
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