TikTok & Intellectual Property: A New Copyright Minefield

There’s no doubt that TikTok is one of the most popular digital platforms right now. Its popularity has been increasing since the 2020 pandemic and it shows no signs of slowing down. 

Entrepreneurs, micro influencers, and some of the world’s most powerful brands have all jumped on board. For many, it’s an essential part of their marketing strategy. For others, going viral has given them major success.

However, we can’t talk about TikTok without mentioning its copyright controversy as it’s common for users to upload videos using images or audio they haven’t created.

But, are users really as exempt from copyright laws as it seems? And is it at all possible to protect your intellectual property on TikTok? Let’s find out. 

Is Intellectual Property Protected On TikTok?

First things first, if TikTok is a major part of your business’ marketing strategy, it’s essential to partner with a lawyer to ensure that you remain in compliance with legal obligations, avoid violating copyright and know your rights. 

While videos created on TikTok are automatically protected under copyright law, there is a chance that someone may use your content without asking beforehand. 

If you do indeed discover that someone has used your content without permission, you are entitled to ask the user to take it down. In the event that they do not do so, you have the right to file a Copyright Infringement Report on TikTok or to file a lawsuit.

If you have evidence that you are the original creator and of the damage you have experienced (be it moral or financial), you may have the right to sue for damages.

To avoid copyright infringement on TikTik, review your video thoroughly and ensure that all elements belong to you. If anything at all (even music that is playing in the background) belongs to someone else, you must make sure that you get their permission to use it in order to avoid infringing on copyright. 

You might come across many accounts using the same songs or visuals. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re not copyrighted – it’s possible that these users are using the same content without permission. 

 Before posting, ask yourself:

  • Who is in your video? Is their permission needed before posting?
  • Where is it filmed? Do you need permission from the location? 
  • Where did the music come from? Is it original audio or did you use a song?
  • Where are the images from? Are they yours or did you find them online?

When in doubt or if you’re still not sure about whether the material you would like to use is copyright protected or not, it’s always recommended to consult a legal professional. 

Influencers And Intellectual Property

If you work with influencers on TikTok, be sure to sign influencer agreements that clearly detail the rights and obligations of your partnership.

Besides the expected deliverables and compensation, some of the clauses a TikTok Influencer Agreement should include are:

  • Ownership: Determine who owns the content and the terms of its use. 
  • Copyright Infringement: Is the influencer liable if they violate the copyright of others in the content they create? State who is responsible and what are the consequences.
  • Licensing: Decide how the content can be shared or distributed once it’s handed over. Will it be licensed? Will they earn royalties?

Sanchelima & Associates, P.A. is one of the leading intellectual property law firms in South Florida. With over 40 years of experience, we have represented the IP interests of a wide array of businesses in the US and abroad, including Fortune 500 companies. Whether you need a consultation or prosecution of a patent, trademark, or copyright, we can protect your business’s interests. 

Has your business experienced copyright infringement on TikTok? Contact us to see how we can help.

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