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  • Writer's pictureBethann Garramon Merkle

Dear Digit: Social media & intellectual property – madness or genius?

Dear Digit sketch_5

Nov/Dec. 2013

“Dear Digit, I’ve been hearing a lot about how posting my images on social media can mean I am giving away my rights to them. What’s up with that?”

On planet Earth, technology is increasingly an essential tool and a phenomenal distraction.  For some, technology is the nemesis –the necessary evil – while for others, it is a golden brush.  Regardless of whether you are an early-adopter or a content Luddite, the rate at which the digital world is evolving leaves us all with questions.

Within the last few months, a few major social media platforms have proposed changes to their policies which rightfully have creative types up in arms. The terms of service for many social media outlets are increasingly written to benefit the companies. Some go so far as to state that content posted (including images of your original work) becomes their property. Period.

While it is a risk not worth taking for many, there are also benefits to participating actively on social media. So, how do we artfully navigate in the gray area?

The American Society of Media Photographers has an excellent on-going series discussing this quandary ( The best advice I’ve seen from them so far is this: “If you are going to use Social Media, ASMP advises that you use it intelligently by hosting your own content on your website, blog, or other publishing platform that you own and then posting links to that content. We do not advise posting content directly on social media platforms.”

Bottom line:

You have a lot less to worry about if you post your work on your own website or blog, and then link/refer to it by posting links on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, etc., rather than posting original content directly on a social media site.

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Although the column emphasizes artsy digital


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