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How posting a photo of yourself can land you in court

Copyright infringement can happen in a matter of seconds but cost you thousands for your mistake. Something as innocent as posting a photo or video of yourself if you aren’t the copyright owner can land you in court - and fast.

For Jessica Simpson, a photo she shared on Instagram may be landing her in court. Earlier this week, a lawsuit was filed against the celebrity after she posted a paparazzi photo of herself without the photo agency’s authorization. The lawsuit alleges that Simpson’s Instagram post infringed on copyright and that sharing their image publically resulted in a loss of revenue. The agency is seeking $25,000 in damages.

Similar lawsuits were filed last year against television personality Khloe Kardashian and model Gigi Hadid over copyright infringement on Instagram. So what can you post on the web without violating intellectual property rights?

Here are a couple of tips to prevent copyright infringement when you’re posting on the worldwide web.

Only post what you own or have permission to share

Copyright infringement occurs when you post content online that you did not create without the creator’s permission. The mere fact that you’re in a photo, video or song that someone else created doesn’t mean that you have the right to post it. If you’re not the copyright owner, don’t post it unless authorized to do so or it is fair use.

Determine if the copyrighted content is fair use

In some instances, you don’t need the copyright owner’s permission to post a photo. There are a variety of factors that are used to determine if the content is fair use. Copyrighted content used for educational, research or news reporting purposes are examples of content that can be fair use. In the United States, you can still violate copyright even if you give the creator credit when posting the image.

If you’re worried about being sued for a selfie, you’re probably okay. When you take a selfie, you’re the creator because you clicked the camera. Even so, if you’re unsure if you can legally post it, it might be best to err on the side of caution when sharing content with your followers.

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