Do we owe the creators of viral hashtags credit? What are the legal frameworks around ownership for content online? We explored the topic through conversations with April Reign (creator of #OscarsSoWhite), Roman Fichman (Tech Attorney aka the Legalist) and Sam White aka SamWhiteout (Social Media Influencer and Activist) to hear the different perspectives on this complex issue..
A hashtag can, indeed, be trademarked as long as it has entered the stream of commerce. Meaning, it represents or is related to a commercial activity.
In the age of social movements and online content creation, ownership is key. Especially when protecting your ability to earn money off of your intellectual capital and controlling the narrative around a hashtag. Unfortunately, taking legal action takes money and time – which leaves the little man at a disadvantage when it comes to protecting themselves.
The next time you see something trending on social media ask yourself, who started that?
And always give credit, where credit is due.