SOCIAL MEDIA, A LAW UNTO ITSELF

Skinny & the Beard found out the hard way that not all content is welcome on Facebook, even if it is just in the form of simple satire.

The other day we were set to upload the video clip for our upcoming song ‘Stubble,’ a parodied version of Taylor Swift’s ‘Trouble’ (SHAMELESS PLUG: you should all check it out when we manage to finally get it up, receive updates @Skinny&theBeard).

In the midst of our excitement and waiting for the video to go live, we were interrupted by a glaring message which stated ‘by uploading this video, Facebook has detected material which may impinge copyright of the individual owner.’

At first we were baffled as to how dime-a-dozen chicks and dudes with guitars could get away with posting multitudes of song covers on social media without so much as the batting of a heavily lashed eyelid, yet we were harpooned for covering a song in the sole interest of non-for-profit comedy and satire.  We had even changed every single word of the song, if that helps.

Common law in Australia allows for fair use of copyrighted materials without the need for royalties in some situations including the one just mentioned, so why don’t sites like Facebook and YouTube afford this same attitude?

The question dawned on us which we dutifully put to our ‘Scopers in a more directed fashion; how can social media remain so multijurisdictional, yet fail to even trust its users to abide by the laws of their own countries? Our followers responded in turn:

“If you put something on Facebook it can end up being a legal nightmare, especially if you’re from a different country or something. Where on earth do you persecute – slash how– slash why?”

“With a lot of the restrictions I think that social media sites can limit creativity of the users and impinge rights, like the right to freedom of speech or expression.”

I can understand the hesitance social media sites may have to grant leeway to things which may have the potential to create legal problems in one country or another where statutes and opinions both differ. However by keeping users on a shorter leash they are lessening the ability for legitimate fair practice in accordance with respective laws.

Businesses may need to be wary of their dealings through sites such as Facebook and YouTube with particular emphasis on copyright for this reason. If a page decides to post a home-made style video with no intention of receiving profit for such an action, there is every chance Facebook will still flag the video as an infringement of copyright in turn restricting the user from posting similar things in the future (or in some extreme cases, receiving an outright ban.)

I suppose the moral of this story would be to brush up on your social media site’s respective T’s and C’s of use; they might come in handy sooner than expected.

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