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Copyright and Online Content

Adnan Sarajlić, Edna Basara • mar 6, 2024

Copyright and Online Content  

Copyright may seem alien to the virtual world, where just one thoughtless click can result in infringement.

One commonly asked legal question is whether posting your work of photography online means you waive your copyright.

The obvious answer is: no, you do not – but you do expose yourself to potential copyright violations.

Whenever anyone opens an account on a social media platform, they have to accepts its “terms and conditions”. Users often click through these lengthy texts without giving them second thought, but accepting them generally means allowing the social media, and, often, third parties, to publish and reproduce the content posted by the user. In these cases, the company operating the social media app or website can treat the user’s photo as its own property and use it for any purpose.

If a photographer authorises the social media platform and/or a third party to publish or reproduce any of the photographer’s images, the photographer’s copyright will not be infringed if an image is shared, because the photographer will be clearly credited. However, any uncredited sharing will constitute a violation of the photographer’s moral rights in the image.

In addition, it is often difficult to track down and prosecute all copyright infringers in the anonymous environment of the internet.

Anyone who chooses to share something on social media must be aware that copyright is commonly infringed online. Options for protecting copyrighted works include watermarking them using suitable software or seeking protection from the Bosnia and Herzegovina Intellectual Property Institute.

Watermarks are increasingly used by news photographers unable to use the Institute’s intellectual property safeguards for all their photographs. Watermarking involves placing a text or logo identifying the source over a photograph so that anyone who wishes to publish the image must either accept giving free publicity to the source or seek consent from the author.

The Intellectual Property Institute offers photographers the ability to deposit the original or a copy of a copyright work or a work in which related rights subsist. The Institute maintains this register of copyright works.

The Institute’s annual reports show that very few works have actually been registered. In 2020, this figure was 37, rising to 41 in 2021 and 43 in 2022.

Although the Institute does charge a registration fee, registration is not mandatory and does not affect copyright, which will always come into effect as soon as the work is created. Registration is only intended to serve as additional proof of copyright in the event of a dispute.

Lastly, whether you have taken the additional step of registering your work with the Institute or not, any use of your work without your approval constitutes copyright infringement, regardless of whether it takes place online or by any other means.

In any case, there are legal options for protecting your copyright!