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  • Georgie Hibberd

Schools & Social Media: Avoiding Copyright Breaches

As schools continue to embrace online marketing, more and more of them are turning to their websites and social media platforms to share updates, events, and information with their students, parents, and the wider community. While this is a great way to stay connected and engaged, schools need to be aware of the potential copyright breaches that can occur when posting content online. In this update to last year's blog post, we will explore how schools can be vulnerable to copyright breaches and what they can do to remain copyright compliant.

Burning USA money

A recent incident occurred in one of the schools we work with, where a post from a departmental account, posted in 2019 (before we started working with them) was picked up by a 'web crawler' from a very well-known image provider. The school was presented with a large fine for using an image from Google Images on their social media. Fortunately, we were able to negotiate the fee down to a more palatable amount, but still more than the school wanted to pay.

Firstly, it's important for schools to understand what copyright is and how it applies to their online content. Copyright is a form of legal protection that gives creators the exclusive rights to their original work, such as written content, images, videos, and music. This means that anyone who wants to use or share someone else's work must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Schools may unknowingly breach copyright laws when they use images or other content without proper permission or attribution. This can lead to legal consequences and damage to the school's reputation.

One of the most common copyright breaches that schools may encounter is the use of images without proper permission. Many schools use images from the internet without realising that they may be subject to copyright. This includes images found through a simple Google search, as well as images shared on social media platforms. Schools may also use images from other websites or publications without obtaining the necessary permissions. To avoid copyright breaches, schools should only use images that are labelled for reuse or have a Creative Commons license. It is also important to credit the source of the image and obtain written permission if necessary.

Copyright School Social Media

Another area where schools can be vulnerable to copyright breaches is in the use of music and videos. Schools often use music and videos in their promotional materials, presentations, and performances. However, using copyrighted music and videos without proper permission or licensing can also result in legal action.

So, what can schools do to remain copyright compliant? The best way to avoid copyright breaches is to have a clear understanding of copyright laws and to always obtain permission when using someone else's work. Schools should also educate their staff and students about copyright and the importance of obtaining permission before using any content.

Here are some practical steps that schools can take to ensure their online presence remains compliant.

  • Educate staff: Train staff on copyright basics and provide them with resources to help them identify and obtain permission to use copyrighted material.

  • Develop a copyright policy: This policy should clearly outline the school's position on copyright and provide guidance on using copyrighted material.

  • Use copyright-free resources: Numerous websites offer free images, music, and videos that schools can use without infringing copyright – don’t use Google images!

  • Obtain permission: When using copyrighted material, always seek permission from the copyright holder.

Monitor online activity: Regularly monitor school websites and social media accounts to ensure compliance with copyright regulations.

Navigating the complexities of copyright law can be challenging. At MDM, we can provide expert guidance and support to help schools develop robust copyright policies, educate staff, and ensure their online presence remains compliant. We offer a range of services, including social media management, training, and ongoing support.

By taking proactive steps to address copyright vulnerabilities, schools can protect themselves from legal issues and maintain a positive online reputation. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your school remain compliant and avoid copyright breaches.

☎️ 01249 588 228


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