Sharing a funny picture onlineCassie Urban/rd.com, Shutterstock
Love that funny meme that’s been going around? Resist the temptation to share it on your Facebook or Instagram, as taking pictures from the internet and posting them to your blog or social media can open you up to a copyright lawsuit, says Tanisia Nicole Moore, a virtual intellectual property lawyer at Moore Legal Solutions, LLC. “We are all guilty of sharing an image online, but what most people don’t realize is that these images are protected through copyright law,” she explains. “The owner of the image can then sue you for using their work without permission.” This is true even for images that don’t have a watermark or visible copyright symbol or were posted years ago, nor does it matter if you weren’t the original person to share the image. These online-sharing copyright lawsuits have exploded in recent years, and any person who posts any picture or video they don’t personally own is vulnerable to getting sued for thousands of dollars for a goofy cat picture they posted ten years ago.
Protect yourself: Only post your own pictures or videos that you’ve taken yourself with your own equipment or purchase an image from a reputable stock photo site. And whatever you do, stop passing on funny pictures or videos others send you and immediately delete any existing on your social media accounts, even if they’re years old.
Slamming your ex on FacebookSeasontime/Shutterstock
You may think you’re just venting to friends by sharing sordid details about an ex lover or friend on Facebook, but if there’s any part of what you’re saying that might not be 100 percent true, the law sees it as “defamation”—and you can be sued for it, says Paul H. Cannon, attorney and shareholder at Simmons and Fletcher, PC. “Social media has become such a common part of life that people forget that anything you write on social media is a publication, so if you write a false statement about someone online and it causes them harm to their reputation or financial loss, you can be sued for slander,” he explains. It’s true: In 2012, a Texas couple was awarded 13.8 million dollars after someone defamed them online.
Protect yourself: “As hard as it is, the best way to avoid a slander or libel lawsuit is to keep your criticisms to yourself,” he says. Or if you have to vent, don’t do it in writing and especially not online.
Laughter is always the best medicine. For a good guffaw, check out our library of lawyer jokes.