What can I safely upload?

In this digital age we're sharing more and more over the internet. For example, many people enjoy sharing their photos and videos with family and friends on popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube.

People share photos and videos by 'uploading' them onto the internet.

Selecting a file to upload

Print: What can I safely upload?

Uploading just means they are posting them onto a web page which other people can view.

However, you need to be aware of a few issues around what you can safely upload.

Images, for instance, are very easy to copy and circulate once you post them onto a public website.

And posting videos which include music could land you in hot water.

You might find yourself breaching copyright laws without realising that you have done anything wrong.

Copyright - what is it?

How much do you know about copyright? You might know the basics - for example, uploading the latest James Bond film to the internet would be illegal as it would breach copyright laws.

Copyright is all about protection. It protects physical ideas. This might sound a bit strange because ideas aren't physical - they're in your head. But as soon as those ideas are written down, captured or recorded, they become protected by copyright.

So, if you suddenly wanted to write a novel or make a film about the adventures of a dashing spy with a fondness for drinking Martinis (shaken, not stirred), then you might find yourself in trouble because that idea is protected under copyright law.

Copyright gives the creator of an original piece of work control over its publication, distribution and adaptation. Copyright is an automatic right, which means you don't have to apply for it.

What does copyright cover?

All sorts of creative works are protected under copyright laws. They include:

  • writing - eg books, plays, poems, computer programs, magazines, articles
  • music - from the composition to the recording of a specific song
  • film footage - whether it's a $100m Hollywood blockbuster or a video of a puppy filmed on someone's phone, it's protected by copyright
  • images - eg photographs, logos, maps, paintings

Web pages and websites - which are compilations of words, images and videos - are also protected.

Word of warning

When you upload anything to public websites, what you are doing is copying and sharing content - and you are only allowed to do that if you own the copyright or have permission from the copyright holder.

So, before you post anything online, you need to ask yourself: 'Do I own the copyright to every element of the upload?'

If you upload something without permission you could face being sued by its owner and they could try to claim for damages (which could cost you dearly). In some cases it might even be a criminal offence, and you could face a fine or even prison.

Be careful

But let's not get too alarmed. If you're careful and think about what you're doing, you'll be fine.

For instance, if you're recording a video, make sure all the actors have agreed to be in it. And unless you have permission from the copyright holder, don't use things like photographs, brand names, logos or anyone else's music (your own compositions are okay).

That way you can take a deep breath and post your video online without worrying. And remember - the copyright laws that protect other people's creative works, will now be protecting you and your creations too.

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