How to Avoid Litigation from User-Generated-Content

User-generated content (UGC) is a popular marketing method for several reasons. It is affordable, it allows brands to produce new content, customers trust it, and – perhaps most importantly – it gets results. However, for all its advantages, UGC can be an obligation if not approached with caution.There are existing copyright protections that can help brand skirts in potentially catastrophic lawsuits, but the fact that UGC is relatively new has a lot of nuances when it comes to legislation. Fortunately, there are also measures that brands can take to avoid running into legal issues.


Current protection

In 1998, President Clinton signed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) with the goal of “the country’s copyright law in the digital age in the country.” Part of the DMCA specifically – Section 512 (c) – facilitates compliance Is when it generates content for the user. Section 512 (c) protects sites from claims of copyright infringement to anyone and all content provided by others. It is important to clarify that sites are “safe harbor” There are certain procedures to be followed within this section of the DMCA.


Inform customers of its policy.

Follow the appropriate notice and take the procedures down
. Designate a Copyright Agent with the Copyright Office.
It is not knowledgeable that the content or activity is infringing or from the fact that the infringing material exists on its network.
Working closely with the DMCA is Section 230 of the Communications Disability Act (CDA) , Which protects companies from defamation lawsuits. 

Although these laws exempt companies from the obligation of the UGC, there are still many legal gray areas; And when it comes to social media platforms in particular, it is likely that regulation will increase significantly in the coming years.


How your company can protect itself

Getting user permission is a big first step to protect your company from lawsuits. If you have permission to promote your brand with user content, then you take away a large part of the risk. There are two different ways to go about permission: clearly and explicitly.

As its name itself suggests, the user is aware of the fact that a company is using its content for marketing. Although it requires less effort to obtain explicit permission, it is certainly risky for the two options. Creating terms and conditions is key here in dodging legal action.


The express permission is very secure

The express permission is very secure that consent has been agreed but not received. On top of the fact that it takes time and effort, it does not guarantee that users will allow the use of their content. A branded hashtag may sound like a green light, but be sure to get explicit permission in this example as well – the logic of being a user may inadvertently contribute to a marketing campaign simply because they used the same hashtag . Even if it is not an obligation, using customer content without approval carries the risk of damaging your brand’s reputation.

Brands seeking permission have a chance of success by contacting them in a user-friendly yet professional manner. All requests must be sent from the company’s account, no matter the platform. Also, if your request is too much robots or spam, the user may see it as a red flag. When seeking rights, keep the language clear and concise and retain this language in response to a request, whether accepted or rejected.


Third-Party Social Media Terms and Conditions

Terms and conditions. They are not fun to read, but they are undeniably important. When it comes to content ownership and the right to use content, most social media platforms agree. The terms of use of Instagram probably get this matter most carefully: “We do not claim ownership of your content, but you grant us a license to use it.”

However, reading the fine print of these TOS often shows that protection from third party claims has not been provided. This is a major reason for implementing a content curation process, which is discussed further.


Spot liability

Companies can widen their safety nets by leveraging related technology. For example, digital rights management (DRM) tools help identify content that would be subject to liability. They allow brands to sift through content they want to secure for rights and then create a record of users who have given permission.

Updated: May 31, 2020 — 7:53 am

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