Does sharing on social media violate copyright law?

Social media is popular for its ability to carry ideas through networks of people at lightning speed. New York users of social media may post and share videos, pictures, quotes and other items in the hopes that they will go viral. What users of social media may not understand is that some of the items they share may be protected by copyright law.

Although clicking and sharing a work of art may take a fraction of a second, the person who created the work may have given much time and effort to creating it. To find that businesses or individuals are using one's copyrighted art, music or other creative endeavor for their own gain is certainly frustrating. However, in some situations, the law of fair use may apply.

If an individual or business uses copyrighted material, four factors must exist for the law to consider it fair use. First, the person or business must be using the material for a certain purpose, such as education, research or as part of a review of the copyrighted material. Secondly, the court will consider the nature of the material. For example, if the material is informative, it is more likely to be open to fair use. The court will also consider how much of the material is used and how much the user will benefit from the use of the copyrighted material.

Copyright law concerning social media are still evolving, but that does not mean New York artists and creators have no rights regarding the use of their works in these platforms. This is especially true if some entity on social media is profiting from an artist's work. Under these circumstances, the guidance of an attorney can prove valuable.

Source: ipwatchdog.com, "Photo Sharing on Social Media & Copyright Infringement: What You Need to Know", Amanda G. Ciccatelli, Dec. 15, 2017

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