A copyright is a set of automatically granted rights to the creator who creates work, such as a book, song, film, drama, software codes. These rights include reproducing the work, creating derivative works, distributing copies, and publicly performing and displaying. Whereas Section 52 of the Copyright Act allows for certain acts that do not constitute a copyright infringement, such as fair dealing with a literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic work that is not a computer programme for the following purposes:

  • Personal use, including research;
  • Analysis or critique;
  • Reporting prevailing events in any print media or;
  • By telecast or in a cinematographic film or through photographs;
  • Reproduction for a judicial proceeding or a statement of a judicial procedure;
  • Reproduction or publication of a dramatic, literary, musical or artistic work in a work developed by the secretariat of a legislative body or, in the case of bicameral legislation, by the administration of one of the chambers of the legislative body, solely for the use of the members of that legislature;
  • The reproduction of literary, dramatic or musical works in a certified copy made or made available by applicable law;
  • Publicly reading or reciting an intelligible fragment of a published literary or dramatic work;
  • Publication in a collection composed primarily of non-proprietary material that is good faith reserved for use by educational institutions;
  • The production of sound when performed by or with the license or consent of the copyright holder in work.


Suppose the work is eligible, such as tweets on Twitter. In that case, the owner retains ownership of the copyright when they post their original work on social media. The work cannot be used without the owner’s permission, and the platform does not claim ownership.

One exception: by posting on a platform like YouTube or Twitter, one agrees to the site’s terms of service, often granting the site permission to use the work. More importantly, one allows other users on the platform to share one’s work (if your settings are configured to enable shares). As a social media user, one must first understand and then follow the terms of service one has agreed to.

Just because one share their work on social media does not mean others can use it without credit. If one makes a meme and share it on Twitter, other users can retweet it. However, suppose someone copies the meme without attribution and posts it on their feed or even outside social media. In that case, it is not automatically considered fair use and is most likely to violate the platform’s terms of service.

It is essential to understand that one cannot post a copyrighted work to a social media site without getting permission. Courts have ruled that simply uploading a photograph to the internet is not transformative. Users should only post creative works in the public domain that qualify for fair use and have permission to publish or create themselves.

You do not need to post a copyright notice with your work because copyright is created as soon as you produce it. However, if you’re sharing your work on social media, a copyright notice, such as 2019 Bob Jones, can serve as a reminder to other users that you own it.

Because copyright and social media law is constantly changing, users must keep up with the latest developments. Copyright registration is recommended to protect your creative interests.

The following is a quote from the Twitter Terms of Service:

Any content a person submits, posts, or displays on or through the services remains your property. The person has a grant of a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free licence (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, modify, publish, process, adapt, transmit, display, and distribute such content in any media or distribution methods by submitting, posting, or displaying content on or through the Services (now known or later developed).

In other words, Twitter users give Twitter permission to share their Tweets with other Twitter users.

The Facebook Terms state that “person (the Facebook user) own all of the information and content you post on Facebook, and a person can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings” and that you (the Facebook user) own “all of the content and information you post on Facebook.

The person also grant Facebook a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide licence to use any IP content person post on or in connection with Facebook if protected by intellectual property rights (IP License). All of your Content is deleted when you leave Facebook.

Pinterest is a social media site where users can share photos from their personal websites and other sources. Pinterest’s terms of service state that it does not claim your photo copyright. However, by signing up for Pinterest and agreeing to their terms and privacy notice, you are giving Pinterest a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sublicensable, worldwide licence to use, display, re-pin, reproduce, modify (e.g., re-format), rearrange, and distribute user content on Pinterest to operate and provide the service to you and other users.

Protecting Your Social Media Content 

The best way to avoid having your intellectual property appropriated on social media is to avoid posting it in the first place. You have granted a licence to the media site to use the content and for others to view it, even though you own the content you post on one of these social media sites. A copyright statement on the file of photos to protect the content. Also, keep in mind that someone may appropriate the property (not associated with the social media site). It would help if you were looking for potential violations and filed complaints as soon as possible. You may not be able to prove your claims in court if you are not vigilant.

For instance, in the United States, the use of third-party photographs was the subject of a lawsuit that resulted in a copyright violation judgement of liability. It was a legal battle between Haitian photographer Daniel Morel and Agence France Presse and Getty Images. According to the facts, Daniel Morel, who was in Haiti at the time of the earthquake in 2010, took several photographs and published them to his TwitPic account, a Twitter application that allows users to share photos.

The referred publication agencies had access to the images through a third party. They sold them to media companies worldwide without the photographer’s permission or mentioning him as the photographer.

The court case lasted three years, including costs, and a federal jury presided over by Judge Alison Nathan eventually ordered the agencies to pay $1,200,000 in damages for intellectual property rights violations.

Infringement of Copyright

It is highly expected that there will be repeated breaches of intellectual property rights in the above knowledge. The content published by users on social media sites, including videos, photos, songs, and illustrations, is used by third parties daily, both by individuals and companies, whether they are social media users, without being previously authorised owners of the rights. This practice constitutes a violation of the IP rights inherent to such content.

Conclusion: One thing is sure: when we use social media, we must be aware that intellectual property law applies to any content that meets the criteria for being considered a work capable of protection. In other words, the same direction that governs the analogue world also rules the online world, particularly in social media sites. The prestigious publisher mentioned earlier appears to have temporarily forgotten about it.

Disclaimer: The present article intends to provide general guidance on the subject, and you can also consult us in your specific case.