In all my posts so far, I’ve tried to demonstrate and intentionally focus on setting an example of how to communicate authentically on Instagram and social media. For instance, I won’t provide legal advice on copyright infringement because I’m not an IP specialist. I don’t have the relevant experience to provide proper advice on this topic and it would be inauthentic of me to do so. But I do follow a policy to ensure I don’t commit copyright infringement.

When it comes to creating content on the internet and social platforms, it’s important to understand the difference between plagiarism and copyright infringement. Also, how to avoid them.

Plagiarism is relatively straightforward. The Harvard Referencing Guide gives a good indication of what can amount to plagiarism. Avoiding copyright infringement is a bit more tricky. For example, if I share a quote or extract on my blog, I can’t say with 100% certainty that it will not amount to copyright infringement. In South Africa, the court considers certain factors and determines whether a defence against a claim for copyright infringement exists on a case-by-case basis (source).

For this reason, to avoid plagiarism and copyright infringement, I rather focus on the underlying value of ‘being authentic’. I also ask myself whether my actions will cause the copyright owner/person who deserves credit/society any harm.

For example, I don’t read the opinions of other bloggers who blog about the same topics. It interferes with my own creative thinking process. However, I do consult pure academic sources and data. If I use the academic data in my content, I give my interpretation and rewrite it in my own words. I also reference the sources. Please note, this is not legal advice but my personal policy.

At university, I was taught the more sources one consults and mentions, the more authentic and credible an opinion/guideline. That being said, I hope I inspired you to approach a credible source on the subject of plagiarism and copyright infringement – an IP specialist.

If you would like to attend a workshop by an IP specialist to understand copyright infringement (illegal) and plagiarism (unethical) – and the consequences of being guilty of the aforementioned – please pop me a mail. After the workshop, I can help you create policies to ensure you follow the correct steps.

Image credit: Jenni Elizabeth


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