How to Avoid Intellectual Property Issues When Posting to Your Apartment’s Facebook Account

December 17, 2015 | by:

Facebook is undoubtedly a useful channel for apartment marketing. The medium not only allows you to connect with potential new residents who are considering moving to the community, but also to inform your current residents about certain events that are happening in the community.

As is the case with all social media channels, however, the strategies that you employ to promote your apartment must comply with Facebook’s terms of use. And because social media is a relatively new form of marketing, many people don’t understand which forms of promoting a community are acceptable, and which forms of promoting a community could result in the removal of your Facebook page. This is particularly true in regards to intellectual property, and how communities use text, images, and videos for promotion.

To eliminate the confusion, we’ve outlined the differences between acceptable and unacceptable uses of intellectual property according to Facebook, below.

Acceptable Use

There are roughly 156 million active Facebook users in the United States. And when we use Facebook, it’s not uncommon for us to share internet content that we find interesting. This content then appears on our profiles’ wall, where it’s visible to our friends and followers.

Even if you didn’t write the text, take the photograph, or shoot the video within that content, you can – and in fact, are encouraged – to promote it by posting it to your profile’s wall. This is also true for apartment communities and other companies with “Business” pages. As long as you don’t take credit for producing the content, it’s perfectly fine to post it, whether your page represents an individual or a business.

Unacceptable Use

While sharing a post that promotes another person’s content is perfectly acceptable, sharing a post that contains another person’s content is not. Let’s pretend, for example, that your community is having an Independence Day celebration with fireworks, and you want to spread the word by creating a post that has completely original text, with the address of your community and the time of the event. You then add an image of fireworks, which you found online, to that post. As soon as you publish this post, you’ve effectively infringed on the original creator’s intellectual property, and have violated Facebook’s terms of use.

The terms of use don’t just apply to posts, either. If you found a picture of gym equipment online, and you use that image to promote your community’s gym in the “Picture” section of your Facebook page, you’ve also infringed on someone else’s intellectual property.

Essentially, you can never claim – or even imply – that you created the work of another individual.

Creating Your Own Unique Content

If you still want to promote your community’s fireworks display or fitness center, but don’t have a high-resolution camera to capture images for promotion, don’t worry. There’s still a great way to promote your community through images without violating Facebook’s terms on intellectual property: using Public Domain images and images available under some Creative Commons licenses. Public Domain images can be used by anyone, for any purpose, and you can even manipulate these images to create something entirely new. Some Creative Commons licensed images can be used freely provided you properly attribute the image to its original creator, although a few Creative Commons licenses disallow things like making derivative works or using an image for commercial purposes. To help you understand what you can and can’t do with Creative Commons images, the Creative Commons licenses also have ‘human readable’ versions.

To learn more about intellectual property and social media, check out the photo copyright section of our resources page.

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Photo Credit: facebook website screenshot by Spencer E Holtaway | CC BY-ND 2.0