Copyrights are the rights provided by law regarding all kinds of products created by intellectual labor such as artistic works, and the usage and reproduction of such works. Registration is not obligatory to arise copyrights. The basic regulation in this regard is the Law on Intellectual and Artistic Works. (“LIAW”).
Recently, copyright issues became more complicated due to the widespread usage of the internet and social media. People reached the position of active publishers rather than the position of passive consumers.
The Effects of Social Media on Copyrights
With the development and widespread use of communication methods in today’s world, the protection of copyrights became even more difficult. Users on social media platforms are no longer just consumers by the virtue of these channels. Thus, users can exhibit new behaviors that concern copyright, such as creating new work, creating a work based on someone else’s work (adaptation or reproduction of work), and directly sharing someone else’s work. These kinds of actions may lead to violation of copyrights.
Most of the content shared on social media is the type of processed works meaning that most of the posts made on social media are usually works that are created by adaptation or reproduction of someone else’s works. In this regard, this kind of works becomes critical in the protection of copyrights on social media.
The right to exploit a work by adapting or reproducing it belongs exclusively to the author. For third parties to share an adapted or reproduced work, they must receive permission from the author otherwise, such activity is considered as a violation of copyrights.
In addition to adaptation or reproduction and sharing of such works, re-sharing a work can also constitute a violation of copyright. In this regard, LIAW stipulates the written permission of the author. Providing the reference while sharing the work may not eliminate copyright violation. To share a copyrighted work, receiving written permission from the author is the essential rule of the law.
It is not possible the conveyance of moral rights in terms of works created in Turkish law. However, the conveyance of material rights or the conveyance of the usage of moral rights is possible.
In order to dispose of the work, the work must exist first. It is also not possible to use the power of disposition on a work that is not created yet. However, agreements undertaking the conveyance of the right on the work to be created can be deemed valid.
Online Copyright Protection
Within the scope of LIAW, the “Notice – Takedown system” is prescribed in Turkish Law. This system is a kind of procedure that provides the owners or their representatives with a request for the removal of content by giving notice to the relevant website in case of the existence of a share that violates copyrights. The relevant violation must be resolved within three days after the notice is received by the authorized hosts of the relevant website. If the content is not removed and the violation is not extinguished, right holders can apply to the Public Prosecution Office. The right holders thus request the relevant content to be removed or access denied.
In terms of the Notice – Takedown system, some websites and social media platforms have constituted their own procedures. In such a site, it is core to apply to the relevant website’s procedures first. If there is no such procedure, a written warning should be instigated.
Sanctions that May Arise as a Result of Violation
In case of an application to the Public Prosecution Office, denying access would be the most basic sanction. However, as a result of the lawsuit to be filed in terms of intangible damages, moral indemnity may be ruled as per the LIAW. In the presence of tangible damages, compensation for such damages may also come to the fore.
In case the works are disclosed to the public without permission; the right holders of the work may claim the payment of compensation of up to three times the amount that could have been demanded if the right had been granted by contract.
Especially on social media platforms, Copyright violation is increasing day by day. Users may be unconscious about which of their actions constitute a violation. In this respect, it would be suitable to receive consultancy in the field of IT law in order not to violate and to take the necessary measures against violations.