Are social media posts copyrighted?

The question of whether or not social media posts are copyrighted is still a grey area. On the one hand, the posts themselves are the creative work of the person who created them, and one could argue that they must be protected under copyright law. On the other hand, social media platforms are public forums, and the posts therefore fall into the public domain.

How does copyright work in social media?

Copyright law is a complex and ever-evolving area, and social media has only added to the complexity. When you post content on social media, you effectively create a new work protected by copyright. It means you have the full-fledged and exclusive right to control how that work is used and distributed. If someone else wants access to your work, they need your permission first.

However, copyright law also recognises that certain uses of copyrighted works are fair and should not require permission. For example, you can use copyrighted material for criticism or commentary. Also, there are several ways to work around copyright restrictions, such as obtaining a licence from the copyright holder.

Ultimately, whether or not you require permission to use someone else’s copyrighted work will depend on the situation’s specifics. Always be cautious and obtain consent before using someone else’s work if you’re unsure.

There definitely needs to be more clarity surrounding copyright law and social media, with many people believing that anything they post on platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, or Tik Tok is automatically protected by copyright. However, this is not the case. The copyrighting laws state that only original works of authorship are protected, and these must be fixed in a tangible form to be eligible for copyright protection. Simply posting a photo or video on social media does not automatically give you copyright protection – you must have taken the photo or filmed the video yourself. If you did not create the image or video, you must obtain authorisation from the copyright owner before sharing it online.

Griffin Legal stated back in 2020 “You do not forfeit the copyright to your images when you upload them to social media. Most social media platforms, however, have a term of use which gives the platform a “non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable… licence” over your content. This allows other users to share your photo and also allows the platform to potentially sell or grant permission for companies to market your photos.”  (Legal Services | Griffin Legal, 2020)

In Conclusion

Being that copyright laws pertaining to social media can seem vague and unclear at times, it is a good rule of thumb to seek permission for any content that you wish to share that you didn’t create yourself. And if in doubt, and the content is necessary to tell a story or support your brand, seek legal advice first.

Many topics like this are covered in the diploma of social media marketing. To find out more about accredited social media courses in Australia visit


Legal Services | Griffin Legal. (2020). Copyright law in the age of Social Media. [online] Available at: [Accessed 29 Nov. 2022].

study social media - dsmm - social media posts - copyrighted - marketing
study social media - dsmm - social media posts - copyrighted
study social media - dsmm - social media posts - copyright

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