Key Takeaways:

  • Copyright protects creators of original works like music, books, and software. It grants them exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, display, and create derivative works.
  • Downloading copyrighted music, plagiarising content, using unlicensed images, streaming illegally, and selling knock-offs are all copyright violations.
  • Get permission before reposting. Use built-in sharing tools and have a clear copyright policy. Avoid using copyrighted material without permission and create original content whenever possible.

In today’s digital age, it is easier than ever to accidentally infringe on someone’s copyrighted work.

Fortunately, there are ways how to avoid copyright infringement while still using legally protected materials for your purposes.

This blog post will guide you through understanding copyright, common types of infringement, and practical steps to ensure that you stay on the right side of the law.

What is Copyright?

Copyright is a form of legal protection granted to creators of original works, such as books, music, films, photographs, and software.

It gives the copyright holder exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, display, and perform their work, as well as create derivative works based on it.

Rights of Copyright Holders

The primary rights granted to content holders include:

  • Reproduction: The right to make copies of the work.
  • Distribution: The right to sell or otherwise distribute copies of the work.
  • Public performance: The right to perform the work publicly, such as a play or a concert.
  • Public display: The right to display the work publicly, like a painting in a gallery.
  • Derivative works: The right to create new works based on the original work, such as a movie adaptation of a book.

Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement is the act of utilising or copying protected material without consent from the holder of the ownership.

When someone infringes on the rights of the content creator, they violate the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner, such as the rights to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, or create derivative works based on the original work.

For example: Let’s say you are a content creator who runs a YouTube channel focusing on travel and lifestyle. While editing your latest video, you decide to add background music to enhance the viewer experience.

You find a popular song by a famous artist that perfectly fits the mood of your video. Instead of purchasing a license or obtaining permission from the copyright holder, you simply insert the song into your video and upload it to YouTube.

By using the copyrighted song without proper authorisation, you have committed copyright infringement.

In this scenario, the copyright holder (such as the music label or artist) could potentially take legal action against you, which may result in the removal of your video, monetary damages, or other penalties.

Common Types of Copyright Infringement

common examples of copyright infringement

Here are some common examples of copyright infringement, along with real-life scenarios for each type.

Music Sharing and Downloading

Suppose a person downloads copyrighted songs from a file-sharing website without purchasing them or obtaining permission from the copyright holder.

In this case, they are infringing on the intellectual property rights of the holders to distribute the music.

Plagiarising Online Content

Imagine a blogger who copies an entire article from a popular news site and posts it on their blog without permission or proper attribution.

This act constitutes copyright infringement, as the blogger is violating the original author’s right to control the reproduction and distribution of their work.

Unauthorised Use of Images

A small business owner finds an image on the internet and decides to use it on their website or in promotional materials without obtaining a license or permission from the copyright holder.

This unauthorised use of the copyrighted image is an example of copyright infringement.

Illegally Streaming Movies and TV Shows

A person discovers a website that allows them to stream copyrighted movies and TV shows without the proper licenses.

By watching these unauthorised streams, the person is participating in copyright infringement, as they are violating the copyright holder’s exclusive right to publicly perform and display their work.

Selling Counterfeit Products

An individual purchases counterfeit designer clothing, bags, or accessories and sells them online or at a flea market.

These counterfeit products infringe on the original creator’s rights, as they are unauthorised reproductions of the copyrighted designs.

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Creating Fan Art or Fan Fiction Without Permission

An artist creates and sells fan art based on a popular book series or movie without obtaining permission from the copyright holder.

In this case, the artist is infringing on the copyright holder’s exclusive right to create derivative works based on the original work.

By understanding what copyright infringement is and recognising real-life examples, you can better protect your intellectual property and respect the rights of other creators.

How to Avoid Copyright Violation

Proper Licensing and Permissions

Before using copyrighted material, make sure you have the necessary permissions or licenses.

This may involve contacting the original content owners, purchasing a license, or obtaining permission through a Creative Commons license.

Fair Use

Fair use is a legal doctrine that allows limited use of copyrighted materials for certain purposes, such as education, news reporting, or commentary.

To determine if your use of copyrighted material falls under fair dealing, consider the purpose of your use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount used, and the potential impact on the market for the original work.

However, fair use can be a complex area of law, so it’s best to seek legal advice from a copyright lawyer if you’re unsure.

Attribution and Citation

When using copyrighted materials, always give proper credit to the original creator.

This can involve citing sources in written work, including credits in videos, or linking back to the source in online content.

Utilising Public Domain Resources

Works in the public domain are not protected by copyright and can be freely used without permission.

Look for public domain resources, such as images, music, and texts, when creating content to avoid potential copyright infringement.

Creating Original Content

The best way to avoid copyright infringement is to create your original content.

By doing so, you ensure that your work is not unique but also free from potential legal issues related to copyright.

How to Avoid Copyright Infringement on Social Media?

avoid copyright infringement on social media

Avoiding copyright infringement on social media is important to protect the rights of creators and to prevent legal consequences.

Here are some tips for avoiding copyright infringement claims on social media:

Take Permission Before Reposting

If you want to share someone else’s content on social media, it’s important to get permission first.

This can involve reaching out to the creator and asking for permission to repost, or using platforms that allow for sharing with permission, such as reposting with attribution on Instagram.

Use Built-In Sharing Tools

Many social media platforms have built-in sharing tools that make it easy to share content while respecting copyright.

For example, retweeting on Twitter or sharing on Facebook can help ensure that you are sharing content in a way that respects copyright.

Make your Copyright Policy Clear

If you are a creator, it’s important to make your copyright policy clear to others.

This can involve adding a copyright notice to your social media posts, or including information about your copyright policy on your profile or website.

By making your policy clear, you can help deter infringement and make it easier for others to share your content with permission.

Avoid Using Copyrighted Material Without Permission

It’s important to avoid using copyrighted material without permission, even if you believe that your use is fair.

This can include using copyrighted images, videos, or music in your social media posts without permission.

Instead, try to create your original content or use content that you have permission to use.

By following these guidelines, you can help protect yourself from the risk of copyright infringement on social media and ensure that you’re respecting the rights of other creators.

How to Avoid Violating Copyright Laws on YouTube

Avoiding the breach of copyright law on YouTube is crucial to prevent legal consequences and protect the rights of creators.

Here are some steps you can take to avoid copyright infringement on YouTube:

Produce New Visual Content

To prevent violating copyright laws on YouTube, it is advised to create original content.

By creating your content, you can ensure that you are not infringing on the rights of others and can protect your ownership rights.

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Please Verify the Music Copyright

If you want to use music in your YouTube videos, it’s important to check the copyright status of the music first.

This can involve using music that is in the public domain, getting permission to use copyrighted music, or using music that is licensed for use on YouTube.

Add Watermark to Your Content

Watermarking your content can help prevent others from using your videos without permission.

This can involve adding a visible watermark to your videos, which can deter others from infringing on your copyright.

Follow Fair Use Guidelines

Fair use is a legal principle that allows for limited use of copyrighted material without permission for purposes such as commentary, criticism, or parody.

If you want to use copyrighted material in your videos, it’s important to follow fair use guidelines and ensure that your use is limited and transformative.

Be Aware of Copyright Strikes

Receiving three copyright strikes on a YouTube channel could lead to its termination.

To avoid copyright strikes, it’s important to follow copyright laws and guidelines and ensure that you have permission to use any copyrighted digital content in your videos.

By following these steps, you can help avoid copyright infringement on YouTube and protect your copyright.

5 Questions You Can Ask to Prevent Yourself from Infringing the Rights of the Owner

avoid copyright breach

Here are five questions you can ask yourself to help avoid copyright infringement:

Was All of This Content Created by Me?

Creating your original content is the best way to avoid copyright infringement.

If you have not created all of the content yourself, it’s important to ensure that you have permission to use any content that you have not created.

May I Obtain Permission to Use All Content Included if Necessary?

If you have not created all of the content yourself, it’s important to ensure that you have permission to use any content that you have not created.

This can involve obtaining permission from the copyright owner or using content that is licensed for use.

Is My Use of This Content Exempt from the Violation under Fair Use or Another Exception?

If you want to use copyrighted material in your work without permission, it’s important to ensure that your use falls within an exception to copyright infringement like fair use.

Fair use allows for limited use of copyrighted material without permission for purposes such as commentary, criticism, or parody.

Have I Attributed the Source of Any Content That I Have Not Created?

If you use content that you have not created, it’s important to attribute the source of the content to the original creator.

This can help to avoid plagiarism and ensure that you are respecting the rights of the original creator.

Am I Using the Content in a Way That is Likely to Infringe on the Copyright Owner’s Rights?

Finally, it’s important to consider whether your use of the content is likely to infringe on the copyright owner’s rights.

This can involve assessing the nature and extent of your use and considering whether your use is likely to affect the market for the original work.

By asking yourself these questions, you can help avoid willful infringement and ensure that you are respecting the rights of creators.

Monitoring and Enforcement

Identifying Infringement

As a content creator, it’s essential to monitor your own copyrighted materials for potential infringement.

Tools like Google Alerts, reverse image search engines, and content monitoring services can help you identify instances where your work is being used without permission.

Taking Action

If you discover that your copyrighted material is being used without permission, there are several actions you can take:

Legal Remedies

In many cases, a cease and desist letter or a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice can be an effective way to stop the unauthorised use of your work.

However, in more severe cases, you may need to pursue legal action to protect your rights.

Non-Legal Solutions

Sometimes, a simple conversation with the infringing party can resolve the issue.

They may be unaware that they’re infringing on your copyright and may be willing to remove the content or obtain proper permission once they’re informed.

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Penalties for Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement penalties can vary depending on the jurisdiction, the nature of the infringement, and whether it is a civil or criminal offense.

Some possible penalties include:

  • Fines: In civil cases, the infringing party may be required to pay monetary damages to the copyright holder. These damages can include actual damages (the amount of money the copyright holder lost due to the infringement) and/or statutory damages, which are predetermined amounts set by the law and can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars per work infringed.
  • Injunctions: A court may issue an injunction, ordering the infringing party to stop using the copyrighted material and remove it from their website, social media platforms, or other distribution channels.
  • Seizure and destruction of infringing materials: In some cases, the court may order the confiscation and destruction of all infringing copies, as well as any equipment used to produce them.
  • Criminal penalties: In cases of willful and large-scale copyright infringement, criminal charges may be brought against the infringing party. Criminal penalties can include substantial fines and imprisonment, depending on the severity of the infringement.
  • Loss of business reputation: Being found guilty of copyright infringement can have a significant impact on an individual’s or a company’s reputation. This can lead to the loss of clients, partnerships, and trust in the business community.
  • Legal fees and costs: In addition to the fines and damages mentioned above, the infringing party may also be required to pay the copyright holder’s legal fees and court costs, which can be substantial.
  • Account suspension or termination: Online platforms, such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, may suspend or terminate user accounts that repeatedly infringe on copyrighted materials. This can result in the loss of followers, content, and potential revenue.

It is important to respect copyright laws and seek permission before using copyrighted materials to avoid these potential penalties.

By understanding your rights and obligations, you can protect your work and avoid infringing on the rights of others.

What’s Next?

Avoiding copyright infringement is crucial for both creators and users of copyrighted materials.

By understanding copyright law, seeking proper permissions, utilising fair use and public domain resources, and creating original content, you can protect yourself from potential legal copyright issues and ensure that you’re respecting the rights of other creators.

Also, it’s important to take steps to protect your content. One way to do this is by using Bytescare Digital Protection. This service can help safeguard your content from copyright infringement.  Book a demo to see how we can protect your original content from violation.


What is the difference between copyright and trademark?

Copyright protects original works of authorship in a tangible medium of expression, while trademarks protect brand names, logos, and other symbols that identify the source of goods or services.

How long does copyright protection last?

In general, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 60 years in India.

However, the duration can vary depending on factors such as the type of work and the country of origin.

Can I use copyrighted material if I don’t profit from it?

Non-commercial use of copyrighted material does not automatically make it fair use.

You still need to consider the other factors of fair use and seek permission if necessary.

Are memes and GIFs considered copyright infringement?

Memes and GIFs can potentially infringe on copyright if they use copyrighted material without permission.

However, some instances may fall under fair dealing, depending on the context and purpose.

What happens if I’m accused of copyright infringement?

If you’re accused of infringing the owner’s rights, it’s essential to take the copyright claim seriously.

Review the alleged infringement, consult with a legal professional, and take appropriate action to resolve the issue, such as removing the content or obtaining proper permission.