Digital Media, Facebook, LinkedIn, Social media, Twitter

Can I use this image? You may be breaking the law!

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“Can I use this image?” I have heard this question more times in the last few months than ever before – people are now starting to realise that there are copyright laws attributed to content (including images) on their social media platforms.

By sharing images on social media platforms, you may be breaking Australian copyright law.

The golden rule is simple – If you didn’t create the image, and you’re not aware of the copyright license the creator of the image attributed to their work – don’t use it and don’t share it.

Copyright law is complicated. Plus, copyright laws vary from country to country. It’s no wonder that many people using social media are unaware of their responsibilities regarding copyright.

If you’re a social media community manager and you want to use images, you need to own the image that you are using – or make sure you completely understand the license conditions of the image. Taking an image from Google won’t always be acceptable under copyright law – even if you credit it – because you need to know the copyright license conditions of the image.

So, what can you use? When advising clients, I inform them of the following options:

  • Use an image that you have taken yourself, or that someone you know has taken, who has provided you with their permission to use the image;
  • Use an image that your company has paid for (eg commissioning a photographer), ensuring that the photographer has granted rights for your company to use the images on social media;
  • Pay for a stock image (from a website such as http://www.istockphoto.com/);
  • Use an image that is free for you to use under a creative commons license (from a website such as https://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/ – check out the different licenses available);
  • OR use an image that is deemed “no copyright” and the creator of the image has specifically said that they waive their rights to the work (such as the images on  http://unsplash.com/ or http://www.freeimages.com).

Google Image Search now also offers advanced tools to help you identify which images are free to use or share – click here for more details.

Remember, if you have specific questions about copyright you should seek the advice of an expert. A good place to start is http://www.copyright.com.au/ or speak to a copyright lawyer. And as always, copyright law is subject to change. So the next time you ask “can I use this image?” remember the golden rule – If you didn’t create the image, and you’re not aware of the copyright license the creator of the image attributed to their work – don’t use it and don’t share it.

Hughes Public Relations, based in Adelaide, South Australia, is a communications and PR consultancy with proven and extensive experience in publicity and media relations, issues management, crisis management, digital media and social media strategy and implementation, community consultation, event management, media training, publications and strategic problem solving. Find out more.

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Hughes PR

PR and Marketing – it’s the framework that matters

Jamie Hershman writes…

At a recent networking event that Hughes PR held for Communications students from UniSA, I was questioned a number of times about the differences between public relations and marketing. This started me thinking, how can we minimise these perceived differences, and how can we ensure that PR and marketing tactics are strategically bound?

There are dozens of definitions of and opinions on the differences between PR and marketing.

Burson-Marsteller co-founder Harold Burson – who was once described by PRWeek as “the century’s most influential PR figure” – says “public relations is an applied social science that influences behaviour and policy.  When communicated effectively, it motivates an individual or group to a specific course of action by creating, changing or reinforcing opinions and attitudes”.

In contrast, US marketing guru Dr Philip Kotler says “marketing is the science and art of exploring, creating and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit”.

With the growth of corporate digital and social media communications, coupled with more commercially astute advertising agencies and PR consultancies, the line between PR and marketing has never been more blurred. Both are now jostling to provide clients with such activities as stakeholder analysis, social media management, video production, event management and e-newsletter and brochure content.

However, the truth is it doesn’t matter how you classify these and many other tactics. What is required is an over-arching framework to manage all forms of communication in an integrated manner – whether it is an earned media article, a post on Facebook, a paid broadcast message or a reply to an email.

Each communication activity should be driven by correlated principles and applied in subtly different ways in order to assist the client reach its goals – be it financial, technological or reputational.

Here at Hughes PR, we use a ‘Communications Calendar’ for each of our clients to ensure that each proposed client activity meets their communications objectives and utilises key messages to effectively and appropriately communicate with their target audience over an ongoing period.

What sort of framework does your organisation use to ensure PR and marketing activities remain strategically aligned?

Hughes Public Relations, based in Adelaide, South Australia, is a communications and PR consultancy with proven and extensive experience in publicity and media relations, issues management, crisis management, digital media and social media strategy and implementation, community consultation, event management, media training, publications and strategic problem solving. Find out more.

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