Social media is a worldwide phenomenon, that allows individuals to communicate and share with each other what they are doing and how they feel about different topics. While people like to share this information on platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, their posts can infringe upon intellectual property laws.
An individual can be sued for defamation if they post a false statement or for misappropriation if they publish statements without authorization from the individual(s) who said it. Individuals can also be sued for creating an account under someone else’s name with the bad faith intent to profit off of that individuals’ goodwill. Lastly, an individual can be sued for posting a picture of a good they do not actually own, or posting a good closely resembling another.
For example, at the beginning of 2017, a photographer sued CBS interactive for using one of his pictures in a sports article without his consent. In response, the company sued the photographer for posting screenshots of a 1958 TV series to his social media account. A resolution has not yet been made public. Another example is the lawsuit against Jessica Simpson for posting a picture of herself to her social media accounts. The suit follows that Simpson ‘stole’ a photograph of herself that a photo agency took of her and posted it to her social media accounts. The agency is suing for copyright infringement and claims that they never granted Simpson permission to use the photo, and that by using the photo, she took customers away from the magazines and newspapers that would have used the photo taken by the plaintiff.
In order to protect yourself from being sued make sure that the content you post to your social media is original or you have obtained consent for that content to be posted.