I recently ran a Social Media Content workshop and one of the topics we discussed was around the use of Animated GIF Files and Brands. GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) are really popular on social media, Twitter and Google+ in particular. They are fun, cool and easy to make and if done well can be very impactful and receive great engagement from your audience. But when it comes to using Film or Television clips, where do you stand legally? Just because some of the big brands out there are doing it should we be doing it as well or will you be sued for copyright infringement?
Related Posts: To GIF or not to GIF
I've always been a little confused around the terms and conditions of creating GIF files, and taken the approach, if I don't own, I won't use it. And have always created or used my own images.
Fair Use Law
While on my search, I came across the Fair Use Law, for those of you in the UK, here's an interesting article and according to www.copyrightservices.co.uk the Fair Use Law:
"Fair use sets out certain actions that may be carried out, but would not normally be regarded as an infringement of the work."
It all sounds like legal jargon to me which can be misinterpreted and cause a bit of confusion, so I kept searching and found another definition, on the Stanford University Libraries Page, which makes a little more sense...
"In its most general sense, a fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and “transformative” purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work. Such uses can be done without permission from the copyright owner. In other words, fair use is a defense against a claim of copyright infringement. If your use qualifies as a fair use, then it would not be considered an illegal infringement."
Why you should be wary of Animated GIF Files
After a fair bit of google searching, I came across an article "Why Brands should be Wary of Animated GIF Files" and from all the content I've read, David Griner from Ad Week explained it in an easy to read, absolutely no mistaking the guidelines, type of way. He spoke to a Social Media Expert, Attorny Michael McSunas who summed it up in five easy points, I recommend reading the article, it offers some obvious advise, but advise that doesn't always seem to be followed or even taken into consideration.
I hope you've found this useful, in a sense, be careful what you use, you don't want to see yourself getting into any legal trouble. Or you can be like me, and no matter how tempting it is (and trust me it is), if I don't own, I won't use it.