social media copyright infringement

Creating vs. Curating Content: How to Avoid Copyright Infringement on Social Media

To “create” means to bring something into existence. In the content creation world, this means taking your OWN photos, writing your OWN content, making your OWN videos, creating your OWN designs, etc.

To “curate” content means to find, source, organize, and share someone else’s content on a relevant topic. A few examples:
– A hair salon owner who SHARES a popular beauty vlogger’s french braid tutorial (and tags the original creator/vlogger)
– An Italian cafe who SHARES a funny Italian meme (and tags the original creator/account that it generated from)
– A wedding planner who USES stock wedding photography for their blog, social channels, etc. (and has the RIGHTS to use said stock photography)

I personally think a mixture of creating AND curating content is great for your business. However, your top priority should be CREATING your own content as often as you can.

Why? Because you can be 100% confident that it’s your own. Your own photos, your own information, your own facts, your own opinions, etc. You can be totally confident that you’re backing what you’re sharing/promoting on your business pages. And you can be *for dang sure* that you won’t get in trouble for sharing/using a piece of content without the owner’s permission.

…and that is where curating content can get a little bit messy at times if you’re not careful.

Using stock photos in your marketing

If and when you do need to resort to using stock photos in your marketing, you need to be super-duper clear of the licensing agreement. Many FREE stock image photo sites do not require you to tag or credit the original photographer/artist (but it’s awesome if you do because you’re supporting creators and small business owners!). However, I’m a firm believer that you should make it clear when you’re using a photo that’s not your own. It’s super easy to just add “Source: (name)” or “Photographer: (name)” to the end of your social media caption if you choose to use a photo that isn’t your own.

And for those times where you do use stock photos, it should NOT be when you’re using it to accompany a specific offer (just to be safe).

Here are some examples of what I’ve seen time and time again, specifically with personal brands/individuals in network marketing…
– A hair company using a photo of a girl with long, healthy, beautiful hair to market their supplements or haircare regimens
– A skincare company using a photo of someone with clear, healthy skin to market their anti-blemish line
– A nutrition company using a photo of someone with a healthy, fit, toned body to market their protein powders, energy drinks, etc.
…when it’s CLEAR that they just grabbed this photo from the internet and the photographer or model DID NOT provide permission to help market these products/this company.

This is extremely misleading for consumers and can severely damage your company’s reputation in the long run. The photos that some of these companies are using to promote their products ARE NOT necessarily indicative of the results customers will achieve by buying the product.

A genuine business = a successful one

Here’s the thing: I get it. I get that you want to sell your product and use these types of photos in order to generate interest and demand for what you’re selling. But, if you want your reputation (and the company you’re representing) to stay genuine and compliant, it’s soooo important to use your own photos instead.

If you firmly believe in the product you’re selling, you MUST have some pretty great results to show for it – whether that’s your own results or your customers’ results. You should always be using THESE photos instead of grabbing something off of Google Images or Pinterest and not giving credit to the owner (that’s copyright infringement, btw ;)).

ONLY resort to stock photography for general brand awareness/value-add posts. Stock photography should not be used when it’s accompanied by some sort of sale, promotion, or offer. And for those occasions, you should be 100% clear of the licensing agreement of using said photo. *hint* Grabbing something off of Google images is subject to copyright infringement.

See the little message below this flatlay image I found on Google? Don’t even risk it! 🙂

copyright infringement

In case you’re thinking, “it’s just social media… what’s the big deal?”, read this little excerpt from Forbes:
“But both the case law and trends are clear that copyright is very much alive online and that stating “it’s just Facebook/Twitter/Instagram” is not a legal defense to infringement. Media organizations should be especially wary of using content they cannot confidently source and license.”

*More on that article HERE.

So, what’s the gist of this long-winded blog post? 🙂
QUIT using images from websites in which you’re not 100% aware of the licensing agreement. QUIT using photos of strangers on the internet to market your products and gain profit off of customers who don’t know any better. Use your OWN imagery and creations as often as possible.

This is extremely important to me as a small business owner, a creator, someone who is passionate about running a genuine business and having respect for your customers. When you love your customers and you’re passionate about your business, you won’t mislead anyone into believing anything that isn’t true.

So, keep your business classy, compliant, and genuine. I promise your business will be MUCH MORE successful in the long run.

BONUS for those of you who read to the end of the blog post:

3 websites for free stock photos (that don’t require crediting the creator):


Last reminder: Limit your usage of stock photos, even when you have the rights to share them. Create YOUR OWN content as often as possible. 🙂

*Like this blog post? Save it to your Pinterest board!

social media copyright infringement


2 thoughts on “Creating vs. Curating Content: How to Avoid Copyright Infringement on Social Media”

  1. thank you so much for this information! its great to have you as a genuine source of information as the world is moving so quickly and social media is at large! as a network marketer, I value this information for myself and to pass along to others! I love being personally creative!

    • You’re so welcome, friend! I’m glad you find this information helpful! 🙂 You’re doing a great job in your network marketing biz… keep it up!


Leave a Comment