PUBLISHING GRAPHICS ON FACEBOOK

Jan 24, 2023

What problems can arise from publishing photos or graphics on Facebook, Instagram, or other social networks? What to watch out for, so as not to expose yourself to legal proceedings and charges of copyright infringement? We answer these and more specific questions in the article below.

HISTORY OF THE DISPUTE – PUBLISHING OTHER PEOPLE’S GRAPHICS ON FACEBOOK

R.rysuje is a Polish illustrator who recently successfully defended her copyright to one of her drawings, published by her several years ago on her own Facebook profile. Her drawing had been used and published on one company’s own profile without her consent or knowledge. It turned out that this profile was run by two entities – a limited liability company limited partnership and a limited liability company. The author sued both companies for payment for copyright infringement, demanding the amount of PLN 1,500 as twice the remuneration she would have received if the companies had entered into an agreement with her for the use of the drawing.

 

COURT OF APPEALS VERDICT – PUBLISHING OTHER PEOPLE’S GRAPHICS ON FACEBOOK

It was undisputed in the case that the drawing by R. draws is a copyrighted work, that the plaintiff is its creator and that the drawing published on the company’s website is the same drawing. Also known in the case was the period of publication of this drawing and the rates the plaintiff charged for creating similar drawings, needed to determine the amount of compensation due to her.

What was problematic in the case was the very issue of who is liable for the infringement. Is the owner of the profile alone responsible, or is any person who has the authority to manage the account?

The court held (Judgment of the SA in Poznan of 15.07.2022 I AGa 46/22 ) that any entity that has the authority to delete posts on someone’s profile, regardless of the content of the agreement between that entity and the profile owner on how to manage the profile, is responsible for any copyright infringement by published posts.

Significantly from a legal point of view, an entity other than the owner who has direct influence over what posts are published on the profile is a direct infringer of copyright, and not just an entity that benefits from the damage, or an accessory (Article 422 of the Civil Code – liability of persons other than the infringer). However, what is the practical difference of such a state of affairs? In the case of the application of Article 422 of the Civil Code, we have joint and several liability, and the liability of the helper occurs only if the helper is shown to be guilty (awareness of unlawful copyright infringement). In the second case, where each defendant is liable as a direct infringer, in the case of copyright infringement, their fault is irrelevant, the property liability covers the objectively established copyright infringement itself.

 

LESSONS FOR FACEBOOK PROFILE MANAGERS – PUBLISHING OTHER PEOPLE’S GRAPHICS ON FACEBOOK

The most important lesson for all managers of other people’s profiles – especially online marketing specialists – is that the responsibility for possible infringement of other people’s copyrights lies with you as well. It is not the case that the only responsible party is the client who owns the profile, even if a particular graphic was used on his initiative, was his idea or commissioned. Therefore, publishing someone else’s graphics on a client’s profile should be done with a great deal of caution.

The second issue worth noting is what is understood as copyright infringement on Facebook. It’s worth being aware that not only copying someone else’s graphics to your computer and publishing them on your profile is prohibited. Also reposting other people’s posts with graphics can be considered copyright infringement. Repost only those posts in which the author clearly encourages reposting. In doing so, however, you must be sure that the person who encourages reposting is in fact the author of the graphic used in the post. You can do this, for example, by finding the author’s signature on the graphic.

The best way, however, is to use free graphics databases, where, under certain conditions, you can download and publish material on your pages.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

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