The Legal Implications of Sharing Incriminating Videos on Social Media

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Nowadays, it’s very easy for people to post and share videos on various channels on the internet. On Facebook alone, one’s newsfeed can already be barraged with numerous types of videos several times in a day. Many users are even quick to share those even with gross content without mindful of its effect on other social media users.

While it’s quick and easy to click that share button, social media users should now be wary of the consequences of their actions particularly when incriminating videos are involved. The U.S., for instance, is very strict in enforcing its Copyright Law. With this law in place, any creative work uploaded on a so-called “tangible medium of expression” is copyright protected.

YouTube Videos

One example would be a video uploaded to YouTube. Once this video is downloaded and posted by another person on his own site or Facebook profile or page, a violation has been committed. It should also be noted that whenever a copy of a video posted on YouTube is posted by another individual on the same site or another site and claiming it as his or hers, the social networking site and the person who owns the video lose their ad revenue.

YouTube has its own guidelines that users need to follow. Its Terms of Services specifically prohibits the distribution of content posted on YouTube through any other means except by using the embed code and links accessible in the browser window. Using the share feature on every video on the channel is also allowed.

Viral videos on YouTube that have gained numerous views are usually the target of fraudulent individuals and this is a very unethical act that should not be tolerated. Do take note, however, that such situation can also happen on other video-sharing websites. What’s important is you read and understand carefully the site’s guidelines specifically the Terms of Use before posting your videos there.

Copyright Issues and Remedies

In the U.S., the number of cases involving social media and online content has gone up since 2007 and for this reason, there’s also a growing demand for lawyers and judges who have in-depth knowledge about digital media law. Most of the litigation done at American courts cover five basic issues and these include copyright infringement, defamation, product disparagement, the right of publicity and tortious interference.

When it concerns copyright, one needs to be very careful these days said a leading San Diego based criminal defense lawyer Vikas Bajaj. On YouTube, in particular, a user must first seek permission to use a song he or she will use as background for his videos. Otherwise, the site will automatically mute or remove your video and warn you about violating its copyright guidelines, Bajaj added. Certain tunes also require proper credit when one uses it as background music for his video. Unless remedied immediately, a person who violates copyright law will be required to pay damages and that’s three times the cost of the material you infringed.

In the event you get notified of a copyright violation such as in the case of offensive videos, one option you can take is to remove the content. Although this may not totally prevent you from being sued or being required to pay damages, it can lower the amount of damages. This is in line with the so-called “safe harbor” provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The law notifies people about copyright violations through its DMCA Takedown Request and the best step to take once you receive such notice is to remove the content right away.

Those running a business that frequently share videos online should also consider hiring a legal professional who’s knowledgeable about the digital law and who can defend them from possible legal actions in the future. A lawyer who is active online and familiar with online videos and social media culture can be a good candidate. With cyber threats commonplace these days, private individuals and business owners should not feel complacent and must always take steps to protect themselves online.