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Social Media and Copyright: Intellectual property rights in a digital world.

Copyright and intellectual property rights have always been a problem for creators, complicated and difficult to deal with.

In today’s digital world, with the advent of the internet, and even worse, with the existence of all the social media platforms, the battle seems to be lost. Social media platforms offer access to a huge amount of information and allow the connection among millions of internet users who share their creations in a way that was never before possible.

But what about intellectual property rights?

Many people believe that the best way to protect your intellectual property in social media, is not to put it there at all. Nevertheless, we all use social media, and every day more and more people share with the rest of the world everything they create, such as photos, videos and music, without taking time or effort to read each platform’s terms of use.

A quick look in those terms shows that no platform owns what has been posted on their site. The copyright still belongs to the owner. But when we come to the license of use, things change.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular social media platforms and their copyright terms of use.


The Facebook terms of use state that once you share, post or upload your creation, of which you own the intellectual property rights, you retain those rights. You grant though the host the ability to use, modify, copy, distribute to others, or even create derivative works of it, without giving you any royalties or credits. When you delete your content from the platform, this license stops existing.


Twitter’s terms of use are quite similar to those of Facebook. You still hold the copyright of your creation, but by posting it on the platform, you give Twitter the license to use, copy, modify, and make it available to the rest of the world and with retweet let others do the same. This content can be used in any other media or distribution channels now known or later developed, without any compensation paid to you.


In Tiktok’s terms of use, things are even “stricter”. You still own the copyright of what you create, but here you submit the “unconditional irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free, fully transferable, perpetual worldwide” license to use, download, modify, share, publish and distribute, not only to Tiktok but to other users and third parties as well. This is different from other social media platforms which state that users either upload their own original content or content that they have permission to use.

Moreover you grant the free license to use your username, image, voice to identify you as the source of any of your User Content


In Pinterest you can upload and share photos from your website or business and thus promote your work.

In Pinterest’s terms of use is stated that the copyright of those photos remains to you, but as an exchange you grant Pinterest the license to use, store, save, reproduce and distribute your content for free, without paying something back to you.

If you think that someone infringes upon your intellectual rights in any way, Pinterst gives you the opportunity to submit a DMCA notice by filling out a copyright complaint form. 

It is more than clear that by posting on social media, you still keep the copyright of your creation. Nothing changes with it.

The key word is the word “licence” which you give up for a variety of purposes depending on the platform you use. In some platforms you even grant the host the ability to keep a copy of your post and use it even if you delete it.

So, before posting anything on any platform, spend some time reading its terms of use, and then decide whether to use it or not.

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