Content ownership for businesses

Content is everywhere. From the content on your website, from service pages to articles to every post that’s published on your social media and even your physical website, but are you fully aware who owns that content? Is it your organisation or the person responsible for creating the content?

I’ve no doubt most businesses understand copyright; however as an organisation, you may wish to include the © symbol and the date of creation on certain pieces of work, which lets you know how long the protection has left.

What is considered as Copyright?

Copyright falls under intellectual property rights, which includes an array of individual categories such as patents, trademarks, design rights and more.

As a business owner it’s beneficial to know the kinds of things that are covered by copyright, as they include assets such as your logo, website content and layout, blogs, images and videos that your business has created, this can even include bespoke computer programmes.

Of course when it comes to certain assets such as logos and company names, you’ll want to trademark these to ensure their protection, just in case someone does try to use it for their own commercial gain.

Who owns your social media content?

A slightly different angle when considering the ownership of content, however, your social media can still play a part in it all. Content on social media is a slightly blurred area, as soon as you create an account and accept a platforms T&C’s you essentially lose the ability to control the content you publish.

Social media platforms can effectively turn original content into content that has no real ownership and is essentially royalty free and can in some cases be used, reproduced, adapted and modified.

It’s even more difficult to enforce your ownership, should other users share and use your content on their own profile. The right thing to do across social media is to credit the original creator, whether that’s including their name within the caption or tagging their profile.

One small way around this is by water-marketing or branding your content, so should it be shared by other users, your logo or business identity is associated with the shared content.

Protect your business with copyright agreements

Technically, if you take a picture, create a digital graphic or build a website for example, you own the copyright to that work. From an business point of view, in order for organisations to protect themselves, making it clear within your employee contract that any work created within the business hours, belongs to the business and therefore an employee cannot claim ownership should they leave.

This may differ however, if you have hired someone outside of the business such as freelancer, they may have their own terms and conditions when working with them, so it’s always advised to double check these points when discussing work with them.

In most cases, if you’ve hired a photographer to take corporate pictures of your team, for example, as a business you have the right to use these images once paid for, however you still don’t own the photographs, the contractor does.

If you wanted full ownership of photographs or video taken, you would have to ensure a member of your staff used your own camera equipment, within working hours to completely own that original work.

Richard Pinches
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