Remixing a song, streaming gameplay on youtube and collaborating with other artists on TikTok have become mainstream and garner millions of views. However, this poses an important question to copyright owners whose songs, games and other copyrightable subject matter are used without giving any monetary compensation to the the owner. This is where the concept of user generated content comes in which protects these users from infringing such copyright. In this article, we will understand the concept of copyright and user generated content and the interplay between them.
What is User Generated Content?
User Generated Content (UGC) is a form of content that includes text, images, videos, reviews, etc., that is created by users and pushed on social media and other online platforms. These platforms have content that fall within the category of UGC, however the rules governing them are often unclear. Some of the popular forms of UGC are social media posts such as on facebook and twitter, product reviews, company testimonials or notes tapped on someone else’s website.
There are multiple categories of UGC, each with different copyright implications. Some types of UGC are protected by copyright while others regulate how protected works such as songs and video games can be used lawfully. Online platforms that allow user generated content have a duty to enforce copyright wherever necessary so both remain balanced.
Corporations support User Generated Content (UGC) because it saves them a lot of overhead costs of making new content and is essentially free marketing. Content creators take care of this which allows the company to spend on other important parts of the business. The drawback here is users might use content which is unrelated to the business of the company.
Who owns UGC
Customers and users of the brand create user generated content. But does the brand own exclusive rights of the content created by its users? Without proper paperwork they don’t. The relationship between its users and the brand works best when it is defined by proper consent. This means the people that create content for the website should know how their content is stored, where is their content appearing and how are they being credited for it.
If a user uses a branded hashtag in a social media post, this does not imply that the author of the work has given the permission to the company to use his work. The brand is still required to seek the permission of the user before reusing it otherwise the user may seek a cut of profits or sue for damages.
What to do if there is a copyright complaint against UGC?
Sometimes, if the original owner thinks that his copyright may be infringed, he might send a DMCA takedown notice or request. In such a case, the content may be removed or de-monetised if it has been receiving any kind of advertisement revenue.
If the user believes that the use of the work is lawful, then he may file a counter-notice. This varies from site to site and if the online platform considers such request to be valid, then the content may become available again.