In today’s era of digital media, every brand needs user-generated content for improved credibility. After all, positive feedback and brand mentions are more believable than self-praising posts. However, you can’t repost UGC for marketing purposes just because a happy customer or influencer tagged you in their social media post. For that, you need explicit permission — and this is where user-generated content rights come into play!
Let’s dive deep into what UGC rights are, and some do’s and don’ts of using UGC without legal issues.
What Are Content Usage Rights?
Figure 1: Health and Beauty brand Youth To The People often reuses UGC on Instagram. Source: YTTP
In simplest terms, content usage rights deal with collecting consent to use a piece of content owned by someone else. This piece of content is the owner’s intellectual property, be it a social media post, music track, or photograph. Having content usage rights is imperative to use the content for marketing or advertising purposes.
Sharing UGC without rights opens the door to user-generated content copyright infringement. Remember, users, are fully aware of their rights as content creators and the power their content has. Therefore, they are more sensitive to who uses their content and for what purpose. So, brands need to be careful about what they share on the internet.
Unfortunately, the easy access to digital content online has led to obscure lines of ownership. Consequently, brands liberally use specific pictures and videos in their advertisements and unknowingly land in user-generated content copyright issues. To avoid this, respect customers’ intellectual property rights for their user-generated content and comply with the legislation.
Factors That Determine Content Usage Rights
Four key factors impact user-generated content laws:
Figure 2: Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo is the most-followed influencer on IG. Source: Cristiano Ronaldo
Brands often chase creators with a higher follower count, anticipating extended reach and enhanced visibility. Due to this high demand, macro influencers usually charge a high price to transfer the ownership of their social media posts.
Type of content
Social media content ranges from images to videos to carousels to Reels. And every piece of content comes at a diverse price. Generally, an Instagram post costs less than a 30-minute long YouTube product review. This is because content pieces vary in effectiveness and the hard work required to create them — snapping a picture requires less effort than shooting a video.
The price of ownership also depends on how you will use the content. Using the content for organic marketing is cheaper than using it for paid advertising. That said, be ready to bear an exorbitant cost if you want to use a content piece across multiple media.
A lot depends on how long you want to use the content. Creators generally charge different prices depending on the length of your ad campaigns or organic use.
The Dos Of User-Generated Content Rights
Consider how long and where you would like to use the content
As mentioned above, your campaign’s length and the platforms on which you’d use the content are the primary factors that impact UGC rights. Therefore, you need to have a clear vision of both. And once you do, determine how you will gain the ability to reuse the user-generated content. There are two standard ways to access copyrighted user-generated content: licensing agreement and transfer of ownership.
Influencers are usually reluctant to give total ownership of the content they’ve produced. They put a lot of thought and effort into creating an appealing piece of content that generates engagement and gets them more followers. Besides, total transfer of ownership is costly. So, it usually isn’t a viable option for small businesses.
However, you can sign a licensing agreement to use UGC on your branded social account. But this agreement should be detailed and include fundamental details, such as your campaign’s length and objective. Be clear about the platforms you’d reuse the content on and if you’ll use it for your digital ads or traditional media. Don’t forget that multiple content uses will come at a higher price.
Negotiate with content creators
You always have the option to negotiate with the content creators regarding the content uses and price. There’ll always be some back and forth between your team and the content creators, especially regarding the price. Always treat this effort as a business negotiation, and you’ll land a great deal!
Also, don’t forget that different popular influencers usually have a media kit that outlines their fees. Make sure this fee aligns with your budget. If it doesn’t, don’t be afraid to walk away. And be clear on your needs before negotiating with these influencers.
Draft an agreement for both parties to sign
Experts advise all brands to sign a written contract with the influencers to avoid lawsuits. You can even send the agreement through email if you can’t meet the influencer in person. The idea is that there should be some piece of evidence noting the fact that the influencer has given you the user-generated content rights.
In the agreement, clearly state whether the influencer is offering your ownership of their content or simply granting permission to reuse it. In addition, mention the timeframe and media restrictions for the content. And inform the influencer to put down all the additional costs they’d charge in case you want to use their content for longer than expected or use it on multiple platforms.
The Don’ts Of User-Generated Content Rights
Ask influencers for free access to their work
The worst mistake you can commit in your influencer marketing venture is to ask influencers for free access to their work. Remember, creating content is the primary profession of full-time influencers. And their income relies on how well the audience responds to their social posts and follows the T+CTA. You can’t reuse their content for free — mere shoutouts won’t work either!
It is a mutually advantageous deal only when the influencer is paid for every piece of content. And whenever you approach an influencer, don’t ask for the user-generated content rights in the first conversation. Instead, compliment their work first. Personalize your message and let them know what piqued your interest. Once you’ve created a good rapport, gently pitch in your idea.
Immediately ask for exclusivity rights
Influencers often work exclusively with a brand for a determined period. They aren’t allowed to work with other brands and promote their products/services during that time. Brands also prefer these exclusive partnerships with high-performing content creators, as it increases the chances of favorable results due to the influencer’s undivided attention on one brand.
However, don’t forget that influencers primarily thrive on brand partnerships, and exclusive partnerships limit their ability to get paid. Therefore, not many influencers agree to exclusive partnerships. So, don’t ask for exclusivity rights from influencers you’ve recently partnered with. Instead, approach influencers you’ve worked with for a long time. And before asking, remember that exclusivity rights are usually expensive as you become the sole source of income for the influencer you’ve collaborated with.
Automate The Consent Process
Brands with a strong online presence have more user-generated content and brand mentions. Users often buy their products and share reviews on social media. Therefore, manually contacting these users and collecting consent can be difficult.
Fortunately, now you can automate gaining access to user-generated content rights. Multiple tools will help you identify your fans sharing relevant content and solicit explicit legal consent from them. Automation is the best way to reuse UGC without violating the user-generated content laws.
Collaborate With The Right Influencers For High-Quality Ugc
Though all types of UGC are beneficial for your brand, the content created by influencers is specifically valuable. Since influencers have a wider reach and tight-knit community, you are highly likely to drive more sales when they promote your product. Besides, as they create content daily, they can produce the best quality content featuring your products.
Therefore, collaborating with influencers is the best route for more UGC and increased brand awareness. We’ve got your back if you want to connect with expert influencers. Our AI-based platform, Atisfyreach, will help you get in touch with experienced influencers with a similar target audience.
Sign-up for a demo at Atisfyreach today!