Snapchat forced to say sorry after getting caught using artists’ designs without permission: Lessons for your business

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Social messaging service Snapchat has issued a public apology after it was caught out using artists’ designs without their permission.

As reported by The Ringer, a number of artists were shocked to find that art very similar to their own had been used for a number of Snapchat’s lenses.

Lenses are a feature where graphics are superimposed over a users face, significantly altering the look of a photo.

Makeup artist Argenis Pinal, who has over 120,000 followers on Instagram, posted a side-by-side comparison of his previous work and a recent Snapchat lens.

“I’m so flattered they chose my face paint design since they are clearly running out of filter ideas to do BUT at least ask the artist for the filter idea and give them credit, wouldn’t you think?” said Pinal on his post.

A similar issue arose with another famous makeup artist known as Mykie, who posted a similar Instagram post in April.

After realising her work was being used by Snapchat, Mykie has become an advocate for other artists being subject to a similar treatment.

“Most recently their support team has not responded to my tweets [as well as tweets from others] wanting answers on this recurring issue,” she told The Ringer.

Snapchat has since issued a public apology, saying it will do more to review future lens designs.

“The creative process sometimes involves inspiration, but it should never result in copying,” the company said.

“We have already implemented additional layers of review for all designs. Copying other artists isn’t something we will tolerate, and we’re taking appropriate action internally with those involved.”

Lessons for other businesses

Narissa Corrigan from Ampersand Legal says copyright infringement is a common issue when it comes to social media and marketing material being produced by companies.

“As people are using the internet more and more for exposure, I think a lot of businesses just assume they can save any image and use it as theirs,” Corrigan told SmartCompany.

“Businesses should be careful because it can get them in a lot of trouble.”

Corrigan says that if you are posting images on your social media or website, it is best to always acknowledge the source if you can.

“Always acknowledge where you found the content, even if that’s not acknowledging the original creator it’s a good way to minimise risk,” she says.

John McPhail, an intellectual property law specialist and partner at Lynch Meyer Lawyers, SmartCompany businesses should be aware of the laws around ‘fair use’ when it comes to producing content.

“If you can come under fair use then you’ll be okay, but you do have to be fair and it can’t be all for entertainment,” McPhail says.

“There are plenty of big players out there that will chase you up with invoices, so it’s best not to try and get away with non-credited images.

“Try and go through licensing agencies for clips or images, or use a licensed image file library.”


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