As content marketers, we get excited about sharing content. From articles and videos to blog posts and photos, we live to spread content love.

Many of us, however, are unaware that the content we share is protected by copyright. In fact, every time someone creates a piece of content, it automatically gets a copyright. That's why we need to be careful about what we share and how we share it. 

According to the 2013 Information Consumption and Use Study conducted by research and advisory firm Outsell Inc., more than 40% of the information employees use and share comes from outside sources.* Over half of those surveyed in the same study either didn't know whether their organization had a copyright policy or didn't know what was in it.

Spreading copyright-protected material across the Internet and even within your own organization can increase your organization's risk of infringement.

So, how exactly are we sharing copyrighted materials? According to the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America study, marketers use a number of tactics to build awareness and generate leads:

  • Social media
  • Articles on your company's website
  • E-newsletters
  • Blogs
  • In-person events
  • Videos
  • Articles on other sites
  • Whitepapers
  • Online presentations
  • Webinars or webcasts
  • Infographics

Although those tactics are popular, and everybody employs them, you still need to consider the source of the content fueling each of them.

Is the content produced in-house? Are you working with freelance writers, designers, or photographers? If you hire freelancers, make sure they grant you the right to use their work as you see fit. That right may seem obvious, since you're paying them for their work; but, just in case, have them put a permission clause in their contracts.

And whenever you take materials from a third-party source—such as excerpting an article from a journal in your blog post or placing an image that you found online in your webinar slide deck—you should get copyright permission from the rightsholder, whether that's a publisher, author, photographer, or other holder of the copyright. 

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Rachel Foster is a B2B copywriter who helps technology marketers improve their response rates, clearly communicate complex messages, and generate high-quality leads. Check out her B2B marketing blog.

LinkedIn: Rachel Foster

Twitter: @CopywriterTO