Be a good digital citizen: Interview with Catherine Wilson on her #createorcredit initiative

Australian Copyright Law Instagram Pinterest Catherine Grace Wilson interview

We had an interesting chat with our kin on Facebook a few weeks back about copyright, content curation and regramming, and it reminded me of an interview I did with IP lawyer turned stylist Catherine Wilson of Catherine Grace (you might remember we also featured her in The Leap Stories). Catherine did the creative set a huge favour and started the #createorcredit hashtag on Instagram. This hashtag encourages people posting on Instagram to either credit their own original content, or if posting an image that they didn’t create themselves, credit the person/brand/account who did. Catherine took what she knew about the legal moral rights (including copyright) of creators and put them in plain English for us all. Here’s what you need to know about being a good digital citizen, and staying on the right side of Australian copyright law on Instagram.

Copyright and Reposting on Instagram and Pinterest

For creatives, Instagram is a visual nirvana. And many creative and visually based businesses have had much success in growing their following and converting sales from the channel. Unfortunately there are some brands who post images that are not their own and do not credit the creator of the image. This people, is bad digital citizenship! And Australian courts could deem it to be misleading and deceptive. You don’t want to be a bad citizen in real life, right? So don’t be one online either! So let’s talk about it.

NOTE: Catherine has written two excellent blog posts, which dive into this subject much further, and we suggest you read them here and here.

1. Copyright Schmopyright. Right?

Ah, no. Copyright matters.

Catherine says… ‘In Australia, copyright protection is automatic – there is no registration process, there is no need to place a © on your work or to watermark your images. When a work that qualifies for copyright protection comes into existence – it it protected, right then at its very moment of creation. Copyright protects various forms of artistic expression – for our purposes today it specifically includes paintings, drawings and photographs….. When you create a piece of work that is protected under copyright law, as the creator of that work you have a number of rights, known as moral rights… one of these moral rights – the right of attribution… is very simple – it is the right to be credited as the creator of your work. This means, that under Australian law, if you post someone else’s photo and do not credit the image creator you are actually breaching federal legislation.’

2. I can’t find the creator of the image

Catherine says…. ‘If you have done a reasonable amount of research and still have had no luck finding the owner, make this clear, ask your followers to tag the image creator if they know who it is and if you subsequently find out, let that content creator know how much you appreciate their image.’

3. I don’t know how to credit the creator

Catherine says… ‘If you love a shot, check to see whether the person who has posted it has credited someone else as the creator. If so, on Instagram tag the original creator [not the person who reposted it] in the caption [not the comments].’

4. So many people don’t credit. Really, does it matter?

See number 1… it’s FEDERAL LEGISLATION.

5. I found the image on Pinterest.

Generally speaking, one of the great things about Pinterest is that attribution is built in if the image was pinned directly from the posting website (which, by the way, is why you should always pin images from your website and not load them directly into Pinterest). So make the effort to follow the links back to the origin of the image and credit appropriately – just saying ‘Image sourced on Pinterest’ as a credit on Instagram doesn’t really cut it. Even if the creator isn’t on Instagram, mention them in your Instagram caption.

6. What about using images created outside of Australia, or Australian images used by people outside of Australia?

This is a tricky one! Catherine doesn’t have a simple go-to answer for this one, as it can be quite complex. She says ‘It depends on many factors – the laws of the other country, where the material was created, whether the other country accepts Australia’s laws and a whole lot of other matters! I wish there was a quick and simple answer but unfortunately it doesn’t exist’. So, in this case, go about things the same way you would if you were sharing something created in Australia. Do everything you can to find the original source and credit appropriately. Be a good global digital citizen – it’s your reputation afterall!

7. But the cool kids aren’t crediting. Why should I?

Meh. Be your own person. Build YOUR credibility, be authentic and celebrate others honestly and openly. This kind of behaviour is a reflection of your personal values and integrity. And again, see number 1 to ensure you stay on the right side of the law.

8. Oh dear, I didn’t mean to do it, but I’ve done that!

Maya Angelou reminded us that ‘When you know better, you do better.’ So let’s move onward, doing better.

Ultimately, treat others on Instagram how you would like to be treated – if someone reposted your image because they loved it and they give you the credit and tag you, you’d consider them a friend for showing the love (and doing your marketing for you!). So be a good digital citizen, and love your Instagram kin accordingly.

9. My image has been reposted without credit. What should I do?

Absolutely leave a comment on the post, and let the person know. Ask them to either credit the image appropriately (you can edit Instagram posts after posting now, so there’s no excuse) or to remove it. In my experience, most people have happily added the credit and are thankful to have this pointed out. If you don’t receive such a welcoming response, direct them to Catherine’s blogposts about your moral rights – that normally does the trick.

Thank you enormously Catherine for starting this movement. We stand with you! For more, hit up CatherineGrace here.

Take the pledge and leave a comment below to show your support that from this day forward, you only ever #createorcredit! ARE YOU IN?

Kylie x

P.S Check out the ACCC website about misleading conduct on social media here too.

P.P.S I’d also like to pick up on another point from Catherine: These posts do not, and should not, take the place of appropriate and individual legal or other advice that directly takes into account your particular circumstances. These posts are designed to highlight issues that may affect you and encourage you to delve deeper and seek out the correct advice in relation to the issues that will affect your life or business.

This post was originally published on Life Instyle here.

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