One of the goals for any social media or online marketing program is to go viral. Going viral has a lot of possible implications; fame, product sales, what have you . In this case, a friend of mine and fellow cyclist, James McHugh, rescued a puppy form the middle of nowhere while out on a ride. He documented the situation and rescue.
Originally, I came across this video on Reddit under the Houston sub. I noticed the rider and knew immediately who it was. Of course I messaged James and shared the video on Facebook. But what happened next was the interesting part.
I started seeing the video again and again. Some were links to the original, and some were re-uploaded to various social media sites, others had their own text edits. It's a great video in general. Just about anyone can get behind a guy who is willing to save an abandoned animal.
What's interesting to me about the proliferation of the video is more about copyright than the story in the video itself. Not that James would ever pursue legal action someone over using this footage, but when an organization that is setup for commercial purposes, even nonprofit ones, is making revenue from social media, it's still a copyright infringement.
Too many small (and some big) organizations are taking leaps with regards to what is fair use. The problem with the misuse of other's intellectual property is that it opens the appropriators up to legal action. This understanding is lost in much of the vortex that is social media.
Personally, I think that copyright laws should be relaxed in many ways, but as it stands they are not. And, since we live in a very fast pace world when it comes to social media, we need to be extra vigilant to not take low hanging fruit and use it as our own. Generating original content is hard work, but it always pays off in the end, and it keeps organizations away from copyright issues.
PS: The puppy found a new and loving home.