Crediting on social media
One of the very best things about social media is sharing; Sharing your knowledge, sharing other brands and businesses you love, sharing funny cat videos(!) and memes about messy buns, coffee and unicorns. Sharing is caring.
Many accounts create amazing content in the hopes that it will be shared – to boost their profile and grow their following. They do not, however, create amazing content with the hope that someone will rip it off or present it as their own.
Whether intentional or not, failing to give credit where it is due is a big no-no. Crediting properly is not just a nice thing to do; there’s a little thing called copyright law and, if you choose to flaunt it, you could get yourself into some serious hot water. Posting someone’s image without their permission could be in breach of their image copyright.
Every. Single. Time. I open Instagram I see images being repurposed without credit or images shared with inappropriate crediting such as “source: Pinterest”. Unless the good people at Pinterest actually created the image/graphic/meme that you’re sharing, the source is not “Pinterest”. I’m pretty sure that the team at Pinterest HQ are more concerned with managing one of the world’s most powerful search platforms than creating eye-catching desktop flatlays #justahunch. Crediting “Pinterest” is like saying “Source: The Internet”.
Recommendations for SHARING images
Disclaimer: I am not a copyright expert so I am not going to dive into the legalities of image copyright here. There is a fantastic article on the Hootsuite blog that explains Creative Commons in layman’s terms. Check it out here. For local information, visit the Australian Copyright Council website
Once you start reading about the legalities of image sharing it can all feel a bit scary. However, for the most part, people are generally happy for you to share their content on social media provided that you ask first and credit them. Some people don’t mind their images being re-shared whereas other users, such as photographers – whose bread and butter is imagery – may require payment for use of their photos.
Typically, if someone has tagged you on social media they are happy for you to re-share their image to your account however, it is always prudent to check before posting.
The best course of action is to ask for permission
It literally takes a few seconds to DM or email an account holder and ask to share their image. When contacting other accounts I usually explain exactly where and how I would like to use their image and state that I will provide full credit. I also ask them if there are any other accounts that I should credit along with their own (e.g. the photographer or any featured brands/products in the image) and if there is a particular hashtag for their account or business that they would like included.
If they say no, respect their wishes and move on.
When it comes to sharing images of children, please ensure that you have the express written permission of the parents. Personally, I tend to avoid sharing images with other people’s children in them unless they are stock images.
How to find the image owner
Sometimes, when an image has been shared multiple times, it can be tricky to work out who actually owns the image. Google has a search-by-image function that may help you to find the original source. Visit https://images.google.com.au/ and add the image URL to the search box or upload a screenshot to discover the origin of your chosen photo.
How to credit images
There are no hard and fast rules about crediting other people’s images, but I tend to use the following tactics for crediting, once permission is gained, to ensure that the owner is recognised and sees my post.
Crediting images on Instagram
Credit the image owner in the post caption for example: “Image credit: @___” or “Shared with permission from @___”. If they are not on Instagram, I would write the owner’s website address in the caption e.g.: “Shared with permission from www.___.com.au”
As well as crediting in the caption, ensure that you tag the account on the photo itself. This will ensure that users with a busy account do not miss your tag in their notifications. If you are using scheduling software to post, you may not be able to do this. Set a reminder to manually add the tag once the image has posted to Instagram.
Crediting images on Facebook
Tag the appropriate Facebook page or personal account using @mention or write the associated website in your post caption.
You don’t need to credit when…
> Typically, when you have purchased images from a stock library, photographer or designer you do not need to credit however check the terms and conditions to be sure.
> When the image has a Creative Commons Zero license. According to Wikipedia, A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work. A CC license is used when an author wants to give people the right to share, use, and build upon a work that they have created.
> When you share a post from another user’s Facebook account or page it automatically credits the original source so you may not need to manually tag them in your caption. The same applies to sharing other people’s Instagram stories (if they have tagged you) as their username will appear on the story shared.
Populate your own image library
One way to avoid the confusion and headache around crediting is to populate your own image library so you don’t have to rely on sharing other user’s content.
> Hire a photographer to capture images and style flatlay photos.
> Create your own graphics/memes/quotes using a tool like Canva
> Stock up on stock images. There are plenty of stock websites that offer imagery for you to use without attribution (always check the terms on the individual websites as permissions vary). Here are some stock websites that you might like.
While social media provides a great platform for sourcing and sharing other user’s content, it is always best to err on the side of caution and ask permission. It’s quick and easy to gain the go ahead from another account and 99% of the time, people are happy for you to share their content with your audience.
If you are unsure about the origin of an image, use Google image search to locate the source so that you can ask for permission and credit appropriately. When sharing, be respectful of the image owner; credit them appropriately and do not distort their imagery unless you have their express permission.
When in doubt, leave it out.
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