Copyright Issue on Social media


Nowadays, Social media is playing a bigger role in marketing plans for corporations of all sizes. Today’s consumers expect interactions from companies. We’ll have to wait and watch how this trend affects both those who like creating original material and those who choose to retweet or repost something that wasn’t their own.

Twitter, Instagram stories, and Facebook posts are just a few of the social media platforms that have altered the way that businesses advertise their brands. But copyright infringement on social media sites is made easier by the digital environment. While copyright infringement is a bad idea, it’s crucial to know how to protect yourself in the digital age. Original works of authorship that have been permanently fixed in a material form of expression are protected by copyright. Because of its broad meaning, copyright can apply to a wide range of works, including computer software, graphic pictures, films, music, and website displays. Furthermore, copyright protection does not necessitate registration. A work is copyright protected as soon as it is in a fixed format, so whenever a protectable work is shared on social media, it is copyright protected. This research paper tries to provide a basic idea of what constitutes as copyright in social media and how we can prevent it. It’s an attempt to make people aware about this issue to create a more friendly environment for content creators.


Copyright, social media, users, terms of services, infringement.


The issue of copyright on social media is a complex and ever-evolving one. There are a number of different stakeholders involved, each with their own interests and perspectives. At its heart, the issue is about how to strike a balance between the rights of copyright holders and the rights of users of social media. On the one hand, copyright holders argue that social media platforms should do more to prevent the unauthorized use of their content. They point to the fact that much of the content on social media is user-generated, and that this makes it difficult to control and monitor. They also argue that social media platforms benefit financially from the use of their content, and that they should therefore be liable for any infringement. On the other hand, users of social media argue that they should be able to freely use and share content, without having to worry about copyright infringement. They point to the fact that many uses of copyrighted content on social media are fair use, and that social media platforms are generally not responsible for the infringing activities of their users. The issue of copyright on social media is likely to continue to be a controversial and complex one.

The issue of copyright on social media is crucial because it affects everyone who uses at least one social media platform and shares any content there. Users provide social media companies permission to use their private photos and other content for practically infinite purposes without payment or the ability to protest to the use of their works by agreeing to the Terms of Service. Additionally, it can be deduced that through this practice, social media providers receive licences to a vast number of copyright-protected content that they can use to make money since the use of these works is practically limitless.

Research methodology

This study is descriptive in character, and the research is relied on secondary sources to provide a thorough examination of the copyright problem on social media. For the research, secondary sources such as newspapers, journals, and websites are utilized.

Review of literature

  1. “Copyright issue on social media” by Santa Praulina (student of Riga Graduate School of Law)

Prauliņa, S. (2021). Copyright issues on social media. Riga Graduate School of Law.

The aforementioned study discusses how social media companies handle their user’s copyright and if such behaviour complies with state law. It examines the [1]Terms of Service for four well-known social media platforms—Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter—and then determines if they are in accordance with the law. Additionally, it has been determined that social media policies regarding user copyright do not adhere to basic human rights to property and a private life.

  • “Social Media and Copyright: Everything you need to know about it” by Maaz Akhtar Hashmi, a student, Faculty of Law, AMU

Social Media and Copyright: Everything you need to know about it. (2020, April 13). iPleaders.


The study described above is a thorough analysis that explains several elements of [2]social media & copyright, including how copyright applies to social media and how one may safeguard their own material on social media. It discusses a number of laws under the Copyright Act of 1957 and the fair use concept.


What is Social media? And how it is regulated?

First, it is necessary to define social media in order to comprehend copyright issues on social media. The phrase “social media” has several diverse definitions, and they range from. To fully grasp the meaning of the phrase, explanations ranging from the extremely straightforward to the more intricate are required.

For example, social media can be characterised as [3]online social networking websites or as a platform that enables user-generated content, interactive information, and collaboration. Also, it is described as computer-based technology that promotes concepts, ideas, and information by creating virtual communities and networks. But the [4]most precise definition seems to be created by A. Kaplan. According to him social media is:

“[…] a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of User Generated Content.”

Additionally, it is clear that [5]social media does not constitute news portals, online commerce portals, or other portals that offer information that was not generated by the end user. However, we can recognise that websites like [6]Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are social media websites because they precisely meet the concept of social media. Now we know what social media is and is not, it is time to decide how social media will be governed by the law. Since it is obvious that neither national nor international law uses the term “social media” in its language, it is important to ascertain under what definitions the social media can be found in law in order to comprehend how the law governs social media providers.

[7]The video content platforms like TikTok and Instagram as well as the social network platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are recognised as participatory network platforms, which suggests that they are viewed as Internet intermediates. Therefore, it might be claimed that when legislation relates to Internet intermediaries, it is safe to conclude that the law also applies to providers of social networking sites. [8]There are currently two defined legal terms that apply to social media and the companies that provide it. There are two terms that are more frequently used in relation to digital services: ISS providers and Internet intermediaries. However, there is another term [9]that can be applied to social media providers and that is used to describe anyone who offers services to others: trader, also known as a service provider. Since social media is a service provider and a legal business that makes money from the services it offers, it is also possible to classify them as traditional retailers. Therefore, any national or international legislation that governs any field of commercial or non-commercial subject that may be relevant to social media activity may be used to regulate social media providers. This means that the operations of social media providers and the legal interactions between social media providers and their users are subject to national laws including copyright laws, civil laws, etc.

Provisions under the Copyright act,1957

[10]According to Section 52 of the Copyright Act of 1957 in India, for the following uses, fair use of a piece of non-computer programme literary, drama, music, or artwork is not regarded as a copyright violation:

  • personal use including research;
  • a critique or comment;
  • reporting ongoing events in any print media or;
  • through a cinematographic film, a broadcast, or the use of photographs;
  • making a copy of a court case or a court case report for use in a court case;
  • publication or reproduction of a written, performed, or visual work in any work produced by a legislative’s secretariat, or, in the event of a two-house legislature, by either house’s secretariat;
  • of the use of which is restricted to the members of the Legislature;

Doctrine of fair-use

[11]In the Act, the phrase “fair dealing” is not defined. It is a legal term that allows someone to use copyrighted information without the owner’s permission under certain circumstances.

The specific facts and circumstances of each instance would determine whether or not someone is using copyright material in a “fair” manner. It is difficult to distinguish between “fair dealing” and infringement. The quantity of words or paragraphs that may be used without the author’s consent is not specifically regulated in India. Only the Court, using common sense, may make this determination. However, it may be argued that the piece that is taken should be written so as to not interfere with the Author’s legitimate interests. The exclusive rights of the copyright owner are considerably diminished by fair dealing. The financial impact it has on the copyright owner has frequently been taken into consideration by the courts when interpreting it. If the economic impact is negligible, the use may be considered fair dealing.



The following four elements determine how fair the transaction is:

  1. the objective of utilisation,
  2. how the work is done,
  3. the volume of work done,
  4. the impact of a work’s use on the original.

[12]When deciding whether an usage violates copyright or is permitted under the fair use doctrine, four basic elements are taken into account:

  • The Purpose and Character of the usage

This element takes into account whether the use is primarily for commercial benefit or for educational objectives. A brief excerpt from an academic paper might likely be published on a college class website since educational uses are more likely to be deemed fair use.

  • The nature of the copyrighted material

A quote from a textbook posted [13]in an online study group on whatsapp would be more likely to be approved as fair use than uploading another person’s dog video to your own account since the dog video has no instructional use while the textbook does.

  • How much of the content is used in relation to its length?

Posting a 15-second clip from a 2-hour movie on Facebook instead of reposting a full three-second meme is more likely to be considered fair use because the former represents a smaller percentage of the whole work.

  • How the use impacts the value or market of the Content?

It’s unlikely that reuse is fair use if it makes it more difficult for the creator to sell or licence the work. The author may lose clicks or traffic if you copy and paste the full text of a blog post onto your Facebook timeline, and it may also be more difficult for the author to resale that work elsewhere, which means the circumstance does not meet the requirements of fair use.

What constitutes infringement:

If you take a picture and put it anywhere, whether on your website, in a forum post, or on social media, you are most likely infringing on someone else’s copyright. Without the author’s permission, you may not copy any photos or user-generated content, even if you link to the artist’s website or the original post.[14]

Taking an image from another business, such as image-hosting firms like Getty, is another way to infringe on someone else’s copyright. This is in addition to directly downloading and posting someone else’s work. Some small business owners might believe that a major corporation won’t care about a little infraction, but this might be a dangerous presumption. For instance, Getty has been known to issue invoices to websites that use its photographs but do not have a subscription. We will see terms of Service of three Social media and try to analyse them.

Copyright & Social media

A copyright protects the owner of IP or [15]intellectual property (created by an individual but having no substance or form ). Only some categories of works created by an individual are protected under the Copyright Act. With conventional works like novels, plays, movies, and theatrical productions, the copyright procedure has become rather straightforward. However, the introduction of the internet has made copyright a little more challenging.To prevent [16]copyright, trademark, and libel issues, for instance, bloggers must be cautious of what they write. Additionally, you must make sure to obtain a permission or locate public domain photos before using an image from the internet. This article focuses on various social media platforms’ copyright policies.

Copyright and Twitter

The Twitter Terms of Service state that:

“You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).” To put it another way, Twitter users authorise Twitter to make Tweets accessible to other Twitter users.

  • Copyright and Facebook

[i]Similar terms can be found in the Facebook Terms, which state that as a Facebook user, you “all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings.” In addition, user grant facebook a non-exclusive, sublicensable, worldwide, transferable, and royalty-free right to utilise any intellectual property (IP) content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License).[ii] All content is removed from Facebook when you log out.

  • Copyright and Pinterest

On the social media platform Pinterest, users can share pictures from personal websites and other locations. According to Pinterest’s terms of service, your photo copyright is not taken. You have granted Pinterest a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, revocable, distribution rights to use, exhibit, re – create, re-pin, alter (for example, by re-formatting). By registering on Pinterest and accepting its terms and privacy notice, you give Pinterest permission to rearrange and distribute your user content for the purposes of running and providing the service to you and its other users.

In other words, Pinterest is permitted to use your content on its platform as a result of your consent to grant them an unrestricted licence to do so in accordance with the terms of this Agreement. There is a link in the Pinterest copyright statement where you can report someone you believe has broken your copyright.

Protecting Your Own Content on Social media[iii]

[iv]Avoid posting any of your intellectual property on social media in the first place if you want to prevent theft of it there. Despite having full control over the content you post to one of these social media platforms, you have given the media platform permission to use and make it accessible to others. In order to safeguard the content, the photo file should bear a copyright notation.

Also, keep in mind that someone could steal your property (not associated with the social media site). You must be alert for any breaches and act quickly to report them. If you are not cautious, you may not have sufficient proof to support your allegations in court.

Conclusion and suggestions

The subject of whether or not copyright laws apply to posts on social media has no definitive answer. It relies on a variety of elements, such as the type of work, the nation in which it was produced, and the particular platform on which it is presented.

One thing is certain: [v]when using social media, we must be aware that any content that satisfies the criteria for being regarded a work deserving of protection is subject to intellectual property law. In other words, when it comes to social networking sites, the same law that regulates the physical world also applies to the online environment. However, in general, it is unlikely that you would violate anyone’s copyright if you submit original content that you have written. However, you might be violating someone else’s copyright if you post their writing. A lawyer should be consulted if you are unclear.

As an alternative, some authors prefer that social media users share their works because it broadens their audience and boosts their revenues. Many companies are overjoyed when their items are republished on social media platforms. Additionally, some authors may promote links to their posts in the hopes of receiving orders for additional projects. [vi]The use of social media for marketing has both positive and negative effects, which users of this platform need to be aware of. Protecting against unfavourable circumstances can be aided by having a solid plan that lays out a strategy and, more crucially, explicit instructions for use.

The bottom line is, [vii]despite how easy it may be, copyright infringement is a form of theft. “Once it’s posted on social media and the like, it doesn’t lose protection – it still has copyright protection”, Vacca said. “It may be very easy to copy, but it doesn’t mean that it’s OK to do so.”


Aryan Maurya

Dharmashastra National Law University, Jabalpur

[1] Prauliņa, S. (2021). Copyright issues on social media. Riga Graduate School of Law

[2] “Social Media and Copyright: Everything you need to know about it” (2020, April 13). iPleaders.

[3] Jason Gainous and Kevin M. Wagner, “Tweeting to Power: The Social Media Revolution in American Politics”, Oxford Scholarship Online (January 2014), available on: Oxford Scholarship Online. Accessed: March 29, 2021.

[4] Elefant, Carolyn, “The Power of Social Media: Legal Issues & Best Practices for Utilities Engaging Social Media,” Energy Law Journal, vol. 32, no. 1 (2011), available on: HeinOnline. Accessed September 16, 2020.

[5] Jason Gainous and Kevin M. Wagner, “Tweeting to Power: The Social Media Revolution in American Politics”, Oxford Scholarship Online (January 2014), available on: Oxford Scholarship Online. Accessed: March 29, 2021.

[6] Prauliņa, S. (2021). Copyright issues on social media (Riga Graduate School of Law)

[7] Prauliņa, S. (2021) Copyright issues on social media  (Riga Graduate School of Law)

[8] Supra, note 12.

[9] Prauliņa, S. (2021) Copyright issues on social media (Riga Graduate School of Law)

[10]Social Media and Copyright: Everything you need to know about it.” (2020, April 13). iPleaders.

[11]“Social Media and Copyright: Everything you need to know about it.” (2020, April 13). iPleaders.

[12]Social Media and Copyright: Everything you need to know about it.” (2020, April 13). iPleaders.

[13]Social Media and Copyright: Everything you need to know about it.” (2020, April 13). iPleaders.

[14]Social Media and Copyright: Everything you need to know about it.” (2020, April 13). iPleaders.

[15]Social Media and Copyright: Everything you need to know about it.” (2020, April 13). iPleaders.

[16]Social Media and Copyright: Everything you need to know about it.” (2020, April 13). iPleaders.

[i]Social Media and Copyright: Everything you need to know about it.” (2020, April 13). iPleaders.

[ii]Social Media and Copyright: Everything you need to know about it.” (2020, April 13). iPleaders.

[iii]Social Media and Copyright: Everything you need to know about it.” (2020, April 13). iPleaders.

[iv]Social Media and Copyright: Everything you need to know about it.” (2020, April 13). iPleaders.

[v]Social Media and Copyright: Everything you need to know about it.” (2020, April 13). iPleaders.

[vi] Copyright Issues for Social Media. (2022, May 25). Copyright Issues for Social Media | LegalZoom.

[vii] How to Prevent Copyright Infringement on Social Media – (n.d.). Business News Daily. Retrieved December 9, 2022, from