Legal Use of Influencer Content

August 23, 2018
Photo by @samantha_show_

One of the most common misunderstandings brands have when working with influencers is over who maintains ownership of image rights for content created during an influencer campaign.  When influencers create content for brand collaborations, they are using their own time and resources, often paying for photographers, finding locations, and editing all on their own. Consequently, the content created by influencers is their own intellectual property, regardless whether or not it was created for a brand.

Influencer marketing saves brands money by generating high-quality content that is seen by a carefully targeted audience. However, if brands want to use influencer content for purposes other than the influencer campaign, image rights must be purchased from the influencer.  

But what about regramming or sharing Influencer content on social media?  

This is where the question of ownership and fair use can get a little hazy.  After all, isn’t everyone sharing everyone else’s images all the time? Yes, they are, but that doesn’t mean they are doing it legally.  Fortunately, Obviously is the expert in all things influencer marketing, including copyright law and how to keep your brand in the clear when it comes to sharing content.  

There are three basic rules to keep in mind when sharing content owned by someone else:

  1. Always get permission before sharing influencer content.
  2. Images can be shared for free on social media platforms, as long as the creator is cited along with a link to their profile.  (With permission, of course.)
  3. Image rights can also be purchased from the creator and shared anywhere without citations.  

At Obviously, we secure permission for reposting images on social media at the beginning of each campaign.  That means you are free to regram influencer content on your own Instagram page and share it to Facebook, provided you tag the influencer in both the image and the caption and link back to their profile.  This implied consent saves you the hassle of having to DM or message the influencers every time you would like to share their content. The truth is, influencers love the extra attention from being regrammed by brands, especially when it drives traffic to their own feeds.  This is exactly the sort of mutually beneficial agreement that makes collaborations so fulfilling for both brands and influencers. It’s a great, easy way to get more beautiful content onto your own social feed, as well as create a strong, positive relationship between yourself and the influencer. 

Sometimes, though, influencer content will be so impressive that you will want to use the images outside of social media, perhaps on your brand’s own website or even in print publications.  If you have a great relationship with an influencer, they may let you use their photo on your website (with a link to their profile.) Most of the time, however, you will have to purchase image rights. Costs of image rights vary significantly, because they are completely the property of the influencer, who is a free agent and can price their products however they want. Fortunately, if you go into your campaign knowing that you will likely want to purchase image rights, you can avoid some of the headache that comes with negotiating rates in-the-moment.  

Obviously can set a standard price for image rights before the start of an influencer campaign.  That way, influencers who join the campaign have already agreed to sell their images for a stated cost, saving brands a great deal of money. This also ensures that brands will have access to the high-resolution originals that are necessary for print publications or anything beyond Instagram and Facebook. If a project begins without such agreements in place, however, influencers are under no obligation to sell their photo to a brand, and Obviously cannot demand that they sell the images for a certain price.

With a little foresight, the process of buying rights to an influencer’s images can be simple and smooth.  Working with Obviously is a great way to streamline the process, saving you time and money while staying on the right side of copyright law.

Obviously is the expert on all things influencer marketing.  Get in touch to run a seamless influencer campaign tailored especially to you.


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