SCS Shorts: Three Questions about Social Media Posts & Copyright

By Kristy Padrón, MLIS Scholarly Communication Services Librarian

RepostQuestion #1: If someone posts a picture on Facebook and I repost it, am I doing something wrong even if I don’t know where the people got it?

Answer #1: Social media sites have terms of use.  Facebook’s says that it has the right to host, distribute, and display works that are posted because users agree to this when they open an account.  The terms of use for most social media platforms allow a person keep copyright when they post their own work, and also for it to be shared by others. 

Question #2:  Does it violate copyright to share someone’s stuff on social media? 

Answer #2:  It’s safe to say it does not (and that it’s ok to share) if:

  • The settings allow it to be shared.
  • You aren’t making money off the work of someone else.
  • You don’t say the work was yours (like you put “By” followed by your name on a copyrighted image made by someone else, which would be a case of copyright infringement).
  • Bonus:  you give credit to the person who made it.

Question #3: What if I Photoshopped an image I found on Instagram and then shared it?  Is that infringing on copyright?

Answer #3:  This is a fuzzy area known as fair use, which allows copyrighted works to be changed up upon a careful, individually made evaluation, which can be kind of complicated, but people can do this if they objectively decide it falls under fair use.

More Information:

SCS Fair Use LibGuide:

Image source: Share, by K. Padrón, 2021.


Last modified at 03/25/2021 - 11:12 AM