Chapter Rescue: Save Chapters from Copyright Violations and Infringements

Copy, paste, post. That’s all it takes for a chapter to find themselves in hot water over copyright infringement. With increasing pressure to create engaging content that attracts new members, chapters are instead creating legal headaches for themselves and National.

It’s up to you to teach them how to minimize risks and keep them on the right side of the law. We’ve reached the tenth post in our Chapter Rescue series. So far, we’ve covered these risks:



The internet and smartphones provide unprecedented access to audio-visual content, increasing the chances that your chapters may violate copyright regulation or infringe on another party’s rights. You may have already had to deal with one of the following scenarios:

  • Image Copyright: The chapter finds a great photo for the home page of their chapter website. Unfortunately, they copied it from another website. Since the chapter doesn’t have permission to use the photo, they receive an invoice for several thousand dollars from a visual media company that owns the copyright.
  • Music Licensing: The chapter excitedly puts together a new recruitment video. They add the biggest song of the summer and publish it to YouTube. They didn’t think to license the song and now have a case of copyright infringement on their hands.

According to the U.S. Copyright Office, copyright is a form of intellectual property law, which protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Chapters can apply to license copyrighted works, ensuring they are legally protected and that the owners are fairly compensated.



Copyright infringement repercussions can fall along a spectrum. Chapters could simply be asked to take down the copyrighted work or receive a copyright strike on their YouTube account. Worst-case scenario, chapters could face legal consequences.

Your chapters should know what to do if they find themselves in legal trouble. Consulting with National should be first on their list. You don’t want chapters digging themselves into an even deeper hole by trying to handle it themselves. Once notified, get your arms around the situation and decide if you need to pull in legal counsel.



You’ve likely heard it said that ignorance of the law is no excuse. Chapter leaders may have the best intentions, but lack the knowledge to know that they are making a poor legal decision. Deliberate or not, negligence can reflect negatively on your organization. Get ahead of legal matters with the following preventative measures:


Provide guides that chapter leaders can use to discuss risk management best practices. Teach chapters to exercise caution and get permission before they use anything they did not create. Ask chapter leaders to complete a risk assessment to identify any gaps that should be addressed.


Supply a copyright compliance checklist for chapter leaders to review before publishing content. Simple awareness can make them think twice before posting. Share these MeetingsNet and Dozmia articles on music licensing in your newsletters or email blasts to chapter leaders.



Give chapters a list of websites where they can access free, Creative Commons (CC) licensed photos, for example, Unsplash and Pixabay. A CC license allows others to share and use otherwise copyrighted work. For music, encourage chapters to purchase ASCAP and BMI licenses or use free stock music that is available for commercial use.


Risk management helps to alleviate uncertainty when creating compelling content. You can apply the same tactics to the uncontrollable scenario in our next post, natural disasters.


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About the author

Paige is the graphic design specialist for Billhighway and greekbill. She specializes in making marketing and growth look good. Like her designs, she loves the finer things in life. Yes Way Rosé!