HACKED! Regain Control of Your Social Media Identity
Kardashian #copyright saga

HACKED! Regain Control of Your Social Media Identity

Imagine receiving a call from a friend asking about a new money-making opportunity you just posted on your social media account. Only, you did not post it. This is a story that many social media users face as the number of hacked social media accounts continues to rise. In a letter dated March 5 2024, 41 state Attorney Generals wrote Meta Platforms Inc. highlighting a significant rise in the number of hacked accounts being reported to their offices, (noting increases from 2022 to 2023: 730% increase in Vermont; 330% increase in North Carolina; 256% increase in Illinois; and 270% increase in Pennsylvania), and urging Meta to take immediate action. In a world where social media is engrained as a daily part of our lives, losing control of your social media identity can cause stress and have an impact on your professional and personal brand. Here are some suggested steps you can take to prevent having your account taken over and address it should hacking occur.

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Kardashian #copyright saga

Is this the right angle?
Is this the best filter?
Do I have the legal right to post this content?

While the first two questions may be at the forefront of the mind of social media users, the third is arguably as important as the pressure to push content to followers mounts in a saturated market. It is all too easy to download, screen-shot or take a photo of an image and share it across many platforms, however, taking a laissez-faire attitude to copyright ownership can land social media users in hot water.

Not only is uploading and sharing content protected by copyright a breach of the terms of use of most social media platforms (and could lead to a  user’s accounts being suspended or terminated in some cases) but it may also lead to copyright litigation, as Khloe Kardashian recently discovered.

Last week, Xposure Photos UK LTD, an “international celebrity photo agency”, filed proceedings against Ms Kardashian in the Central District Court of California alleging that she had infringed its copyright in an image that was posted to her Instagram® account.[1]  The image in question had originally been licensed to The Daily Mail and contained a copyright notice “© XPOSUREPHOTOS.COM”. The version of the image that appeared on Ms Kardashian’s account did not contain this notice nor any acknowledgement of Xposure Photos. The unauthorised removal of the copyright notice attracts 17 US Code § 1202 -1203 which provide the basis for a civil action for such conduct. In addition to seeking an injunction to prevent Ms Kardashian from using the image, Xposure Photos is also seeking US$25,000 in statutory damages as well as any profits resulting from the infringement.

While this is arguably small change for Ms Kardashian (who allegedly earns up to US$250,000 for a sponsored post on her social media sites), once legal costs and any time invested in litigation or negotiating a settlement is considered, it seems a hefty price to pay for failing to obtain an appropriate licence from the copyright owner. It is a timely reminder to social media users to ensure that they have the appropriate rights to the content they intend to use.

  1. Xposure Photos UK Ltd v Khloe Kardashian et al, 2:17-CV-3088 (C.D. Cal).

By: Jaimie Wolbers

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