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How to Legally Share Content

how to legally share content

Ready to learn how to legally share content, friend? I’m ready to help!

Do I need to legally get permission to share her quote/graphic/content?” – my DMs, everyday.

So you want to share another entrepreneur’s work with your audience, team or even clients — but you’re not sure how to share it legally.

You’re not sure how much is too much content and what’s the “legally safe” amount to share, right?

How to Legally Share Content

Watch my brand-new IGTV episode where I teach you how to legally share content online:

I created this mini-training on how to legally share content online to help you safely share your favorite resources.

To watch, hit play on the photo above ^^ and leave a comment on the video letting me know if it was helpful.

If you’re kicking it old school and want the written version, here’s the gist you need to know…

WHAT COUNTS AS CONTENT?

For online business owners to legally share content, you first have to know what falls under the definition of copyrightable content.

Although this isn’t the FULL list (you can see that on page 8 here!) of what’s considered “copyrightable,” most online business owners need to know about the following:

  • Literary works (I.e., ebooks, content on your site, actual books, social posts, etc.)
  • Pictures and graphics
  • Sound recordings (I.e., those audio files in your online course)
  • Videos (I.e., those video lessons in your program or on your YouTube channel)

Believe it or not, website owners have copyright rights in their website policies! That’s why it’s really important you don’t steal or copy and paste theirs. Just get your own here or in the Ultimate Bundle.

NO FORMULA EXISTS

Just like I teach you about all things law, there’s no perfect formula you can use to figure out whether content can legally be shared online.

Like most things around here, you’ll have to balance a bunch of factors with every piece of content to see what the answer really is.

CONTENT SHARING GUIDELINES

Before you try to figure out whether you can legally share content online, have you looked at:

  • the platform’s (ie., Instagram, Facebook) guidelines?
  • or the creators’ guidelines?

If you’re sharing from Instagram, for example, look at Instagram’s rules for sharing content (and also the rules for removing stolen content). That’s a quick, easy way to tell whether your re-share will be considered theft (misappropriation or infringement for us lawyer nerds) of the person’s content you’ll share.

If you want to share directly from the creator or her website, check her Terms for a “sharing” policy (I have a ‘sharing policy’ built in for you in my Terms & Conditions legal template for your website!). Sometimes creators will tell you right there exactly how it’s OK and not OK to share their work.

NOT OK TO SHARE

It’s never OK to share a complete and exact copy of the entirety of someone’s work — like copying and distributing an entire books (or even a bunch of chapters) or filming a movie from your phone in the back of a theatre like a creep.

Same goes for sharing recipes in your favorite cookbook! I’m bringing this one up because I see it on social all the time. Not only could it be copyright infringement, but it’s just not cool for the author, either. Instead, talk about it as a resource and share the link to buy.

PERMISSION TO SHARE CONTENT

The best, legally-safest way to share other people’s content is to get permission from the creator. That can be through email, DM, whatever you want! Obviously I’d argue that getting permission in writing is always best.

Be clear and honest about how you’ll share and use the content and to what extent (for example, you’ll share part of someone’s book inside of your paid course). Only use the content in the way you got permission to use it.

FAIR USE EXCEPTION

So typically you can’t use someone’s copyrighted material without their permission UNLESS your use of their content falls under the “Fair Use exception.”

You’ll definitely want to watch the video training I did here to learn more about that — because it’s too much to spell out here.

But here are the skinny details on what you need to know:

Commercial vs. Educational/Not-Commercial

When deciding whether your use is OK or not, courts will look at whether you used the content in something paid vs. free/educational.

Just because you used a piece of someone’s content in your course, however, doesn’t make it NOT OK. Just like it’s not automatically OK if you use someone’s content but don’t charge for it.

This factor, like all the others, has to be balanced with all the other factors at play.

Nature of Copyrighted Work

The more creative or imaginative content is, the most courts will protect it. Hello Harry Potter! That’s always my favorite example. When the brilliant JK Rowling dreamt up Harry and his friends, she created a magical world that never existed anywhere outside her mind.

So as much as you want to, you can’t just go creating a play that’s based on Harry Potter without purchasing the rights to do so first 🙂

Amount Used vs. The Whole

Courts will look at how much of the content you’ve taken in relation to the entirety of the content (ie., a paragraph of a 500-page book). They don’t just look at quantity though — they consider quality, too. Did you share the resources’ secret sauce, even if it was only a paragraph of an entire book? Then that might not be OK.

Effect on the Market

Courts look at how much your sharing of the content impacted the author’s share of the market. For example, if you printed up 100,000 copies of Harry Potter and handed it out to 100,000 people who would have paid for copies of Harry Potter from a bookstore, then that impacts the author’s bottom line.

The examples don’t have to be that extreme… I’m just looking for a fun way to work Harry Potter into this conversation.

So friend, was that helpful? Give the full IGTV training a listen when you can and get ready to take notes. By the end, you’ll know how to legally share content online. #winning

RESOURCES MENTIONED:

Read the entire US Copyright law here. It’s perfect bedtime reading material.

To purchase my a la carte Legal Templates, head to the shop!

To learn more or get the Ultimate Bundle, which gives you 10 DIY Legal Templates and 23+ on-demand video trainings to learn how to get paid, work with clients online, and protect your content, tap here now.

Next Step: Watch my free legal workshop

If you’re ready to legally protect your business and have the legal knowledge you need to know what to do with difficult clients, watch my free workshop ‘5 Steps to Legally Protect & Grow Your Online Business’ right now by saving your seat here.

In that workshop, you’ll learn: 

  1. How contracts can actually save your (vegan, GF) bacon — if you have the right one.
  2. What your website needs to be legally protected.
  3. How to keep copycats off your content.
  4. The mindset shift you’ve got to make if you want to actually grow your  business without looking over your (online) shoulder.
  5. The only way to form your business so that you’re personally and professionally protected.

Ready to watch? Sign up for my free legal workshop right here:

Want even more info on what to do if someone steals your most important business assets? If you’ve been the victim of a copycat, check out my webinar What To Do If Copycats Steal Your Biz Content. In just over an hour, I’ll share with you all of my real-life experience and knowledge as an attorney about your rights when someone has stolen your intellectual or creative property.

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