So, your brand is big on social media? Here are our top 5 survival tips for not getting yourself sued.

  1. Someone else is using my brand name on Instagram Imposters are a pain.

But there are a couple of things you can do. You’d probably have grounds for a court case on IP infringement, but let’s call that the nuclear option. Most of the main social media platforms will block an imposter account if you can prove that the brand name belongs to you. The easiest way to do this is to show that you own the trade mark. Check out the T&Cs and you should find details of how to lodge your complaint. And (hint) if you haven’t registered your brand as a trade mark, do it!

  1. The chat on my business’s Facebook page is getting nasty

The great thing about social media is how it lets you talk directly to your customers. The downside is that they can talk back, and you don’t always want to hear what they have to say. Worse, if your customers go feral on your Facebook page, you can be responsible for it. If someone contacts you and says they’ve been defamed on your social media page, you need to act quickly on the complaint to avoid legal liability. As a general rule, if you are able to control the content and someone complains to you about material on the page, you can get in trouble if you don’t take it down.

  1. Someone else is pinning my pictures!

Be flattered. But, if this activity is affecting your business in a not-so-good-way, then contact the offending party and politely ask them to stop using your pictures (or charge them $$$ for doing so). If this direct approach doesn’t work, you might have to go legal on their ass.

  1. I’ve received a copyright infringement complaint, what do I do?

Stop using the infringing image if you don’t have consent. Copyright in a photo is owned by the photographer. Seek consent from the owner (where possible), or at least acknowledge their contribution. Don’t be guided by the “everyone else is doing it so it must be ok” principle on this, that’ll be no defence if you get sued. Copyright infringement damages can ruin you.

  1. Someone offered to sell me an entire email database to help me with marketing my products. Should I be excited?

Probs not. Before purchasing, don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions: Where were the emails sourced from? Did the owners consent to their sale? There are fancy laws governing the use of personal email addresses for marketing purposes without the express consent of the recipient. Hefty fines apply if you fail to comply; don’t get stung.