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Freedom of Information

By Audrey Stowe, Account Coordinator

· PR Lessons

Freedom of Information Day

March 16, 2019

Tomorrow is Freedom of Information Day! To some, you may wonder what exactly does that mean to you? Basically, it celebrates the Freedom of Information Act that was enacted in 1966 with electronic amendments made in 1996. It also celebrates the birthday of President James Madison who was a huge advocate for transparency of the government.

What is the Freedom of Information Act?

Technically, this act is what grants public access to documents of a federal agency or public authority, i.e. we the people have a right to know!

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But in this day and age, it symbolically represents to the general public our freedom to access information via websites, social media, and other digital content. Those photos you get to modify for your own use or business, the endless amount of DIY’s and inspirational quotes you see on Pinterest, the websites you get to read freely, etc... Those are all a part of our free access.

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However, use caution...

Though, we have access to view these bits of media, it does not grant us the right to use it as our own (a nuance widely ignored these days). Crediting sources of originality is important, especially when it comes to trademarked or copyrighted materials. If you use a photo, download a Pinterest article, recreate a DIY, etc. be sure you are giving credit where it needs to be. People work hard to create their own content and sources and this vast access of information at our fingertips allows us to be inspired, see other peoples work, and even reuse it but it’s important to remember when to link, tag, or mention the creator or author. Even memes on these blogs have creator site sources in the bottom corners!

PR Content 101 tell us that identifying sources of originality is vital. This is the reason why Instagram and Facebook can remove videos where music can be heard in the background if you do not clearly mark the artist’s name or mention “I do not own the rights to this song.” In the same manner, an individual -whether for business or not- cannot pull any image from a Google search and publish it for themselves without checking the usage rights or downloading it from a “free photos” site. This can get someone -and businesses- in a lot of trouble, particularly if they’re using it for their gain. Believe it or not, it’s illegal.

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Remember: Always check usage rights and verify your sources! Never quote unaccredited or unofficial sites! There’s a lot of information out there for consumption, just be sure you’re using the right stuff. RMPR knows its way around digital content; give us a call for any digital content and marketing needs.

What does Freedom of Information mean to you?

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