Copyright implications of sharing photographs, videos and other content on social media

Anand and Anand

The Internet and rise of social media platforms coupled with various platforms of communication now available through smartphones, tablets, laptops etc have made it possible to send and receive information, photographs, videos and documents swiftly, conveniently and across national boundaries; a phenomenon which was unanticipated even a few decades ago. Millions of photographs and videos are uploaded on the servers of these social media platforms daily. These are then accessed, downloaded and shared by millions of internet users across the world, especially on platforms such as Facebook which, subject to privacy settings of the uploader, allow free sharing and re-sharing of content.

While the average social media user would find the act of sharing content, whether created by oneself or by someone else, rather innocuous, through a legal perspective, complex issues of rights, duties and liabilities arise just like in the case of a web content writing business which ended up paying US$4,000 for unauthorised use of a photograph (picked up from the web) that retailed for US$10.

Souradeep Mukhopadhyay stresses that even in India, copyright holders have various remedies against infringement through social media platforms, including the institution of civil and/or criminal proceedings, to protect economic as well as moral rights, or lodging complaints with the platforms as per their IP policy to ensure removal of infringing content. However, before one utilizes these remedies, a clear understanding of the implications of uploading content on social media is necessary, since this may play a vital role in determining the rights and liabilities of all parties concerned.

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