When it comes to copyright law, don’t assume you know

Short of asking a lawyer, there are guidelines for avoiding legal jeopardy. We asked a copyright expert about all the things PR pros and clients can run afoul of when creating content.

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Editor’s Note: This piece does not constitute legal advice. Always seek the help of a legal professional.

When it comes to copyright law, you don’t know what you think you know.

I wanted to get an expert’s insights on the pitfalls that can trip up PR pros and their clients, so I spoke with Ashima Dayal, a partner with Davis & Gilbert in New York City. In a free-ranging conversation, we spoke about the mistakes that organizations can make when creating content and messages for an increasingly digital world.

Whether you are a PR veteran or client looking to develop a new content strategy, false ideas online can steer you amiss even as you try to stay on right side of copyright law.

Dayal’s big warning is for people who know they have to be careful to avoid using content without a creator’s permission—but who haven’t fully appreciated the nuances.

Dayal says those who usually get in trouble are “people who are sophisticated enough to go out and try to make sure that what they are doing is not infringing, but unfortunately they are relying on outdated—or just flat-out false—legal information that they have found online.”

What copyright law is and does

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