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Best Practice Update

hand holding a mobile phone with social media icons on it. Litus Digital logo and Data Protection Education logo. Guardians of Privacy: Navigating social media in educational settings in blue text.  A series of articles about social media, privacy and schools in black text.  Coloured pencils at the bottom

Guardians of Privacy: 13. Social Media, Copyright and Intellectual Property

This article is one of a series written by Data Protection Education in collaboration with Litus Digital, a social media management company.  The articles came about from questions asked by Data Protection Education's customers, our own experience of working in education,  as school governors, parents and data protection professionals.  The articles raise questions about how social media can be used as safely as possible in a school environment,  security considerations, the law and protecting children.  It is not possible to cover every aspect of social media, but the articles aim to provide guidance, raise privacy questions and provide some support for safe posting.

The thirteenth article in this series is about the considerations of both copyright and intellectual property when posting on social media channels.  We see so many 'memes' and posts that contain photos of celebrities, artwork etc. that we assume it is OK to copy and re-post.
When publishing posts, copyrights and intellectual property should be considered.  Copyright is to protect work and stops others using it without permission.  Copyright protection is automatically given when you create:

  • Original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work, including illustration and photography.
  • Original non-literary work, such as software, web content and databases.
  • Sound and music recordings.
  • Film and television recordings.
  • Broadcasts
  • The layout of publish editions of written, dramatic and musical works.

Copyright prevents people from:

  • Copying your work
  • Distributing copies of it, whether free of charge of for sale
  • Renting or lending copies of your work
  • Performing, showing or playing your work in public
  • Making an adaptation of your work
  • Putting it on the internet

Source of information: How copyright protects your work

Copyright free resources can readily be found on the internet for using in social media posts and channels.

Therefore, when publishing to social media channels, non-copyrighted images should be used at all times.  There are some scams that will write to you when they find a copyrighted image on your website to ask for monies to use the photo/image.  Further information and advice about these scams can be found: Government guidance: Letters alleging online copyright infringement.

Information held by public authorities might attrack intellectual property rights, but this will not prevent its disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.

ICO Paper about Intellectual Property Rights.

Processing of personal data may be unlawful if it resulst in an infringement of copyright : ICO: Lawfulness, fairness and transparency.

    Guardians of Privacy: Social Media Articles