What Community Managers Need to know about copyrights

How to Break Bad Without Breaking the Law

As the Breaking Bad series finale approaches, community managers may be planning to hitch a ride in television’s favorite RV to break some bad for their brand on social media. But before you don the hazmat suit and gas mask, here are a few things you need to know before you begin to cook up some creative brand content.

Copyright Infringement May Be The One Who Knocks

Community managers need to know their copyrights. Every CM aims to create sharable content that will resonate with their online communities and drive fan engagement. But before you create that new Walt Jr. breakfast meme, be aware you can get stuck with more than kitchen duty if you use images of characters or actors from the series. Third-party copyrights prevent you from using images or even the names of the characters without explicit rights from the owner. Doing so could land your brand in the middle of a lawsuit.

Instead, get clever. If you have leeway to live tweet, look for references made to your brand on the show or monitor for those mentioning your brand. Monitor for opportunities to retweet or respond from your brand’s perspective like a Seattle Cinnabon and the Belize Tourism department.

For a refresher course on copyrights, check out: What Community Managers Need to Know about Copyrights.

Be Promotions-Savvy

Everybody loves a good party and your brand may be considering hosting a viewing party or running a sweepstakes related to Breaking Bad. The same copyright rules from above apply to this situations. While the average private citizen can host a Breaking Bad party, a brand does not have the same luxury.

Avoid any direct references to the show, its characters or actors. Read Five Legal Issues to Consider When Planning a Sweepstakes, for other legal issues to consider.

Does Leveraging This Event Make Sense For Your Brand?

So now that you know the rules, you need to think about whether this particular pop culture event is right for your brand. It’s perfectly logical for an underwear brand to leverage Walt’s trademark droopy drawers, the same may not be true for a high-fashion brand.

Walter White Underwear

For a list of types of brands that could effectively leverage Breaking Bad, see our recent post: 10 Types of Brands that Should Leverage the Breaking Bad Finale.

Participating in conversations that your fans are already having is an easy way to engage with them. Keeping these key principles in mind will help keep your brand out trouble, and as with any sensitive material, you should consult your brand’s legal department to make sure things don’t blow up in your face.

And don’t forget – despite the popularity of the show, it is about heavy drug usage. If your brand’s audience leans toward the sensitive side, wait for other opportunities to dip into pop culture.

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