When we use social media sites do, we know how our contents like comments, memes, posts, pictures are protected under the law in India?

As the Internet Era has shifted from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 the change has been enormous. Web 2.0 has brought several changes. One of the biggest changes is internet users now being able to create their content and share it among people. These changes resulted in certain amendments to the Copyright Act.

In General, Content Creators in social media platforms are classified into “Authors who create original substance,” and “Authors who transform content from other sources.” Section 17 of the Indian Copyright Act 1957 offers protection for original content. However, difficulties emerge while seeking protection for transformative content under Copyright Law.

Transformative content creators are of two kinds. The first category are those who generate new content from original content. They can seek protection under law. Under Section 14 of the Copyright Act, Copyright is an exclusive right, subject to the provisions of the Act, to do or authorize the doing of the acts enumerated in the said section, in respect of the work or any substantial part thereof.[1] The important aspect is to seek protection by evaluating the “substantial part thereof” of the work.

With regard to “substantial part thereof”, Indian courts have adopted two significant doctrines to evaluate the extent of originality of content generated from other sources.

In case of transformative work, which may involve taking what is useful from an original work while infusing additions and improvements, The Sweat of Brow and Modicum of the Creativity Rules come into play. Therefore, to protect the content on the social media sites, the authors must prove it to be “substantially creative”.

In 2013, amendments have been brought in Section 14 of the Indian Copyright Act. Under the rights that have been recognized under Section 14, the amendments refer to the reproduction of certain works covering “storing the work in any medium by electronic means.” This addresses some of the digital era challenges.[2]  The word reproduce means to “produce again” or to make a copy of the original work. Hence, if the content shared on the internet is a transformative work which is sufficiently creative, and cannot be considered as a mere reproduction, translation or an adaptation of the original content, it can be protected under copyright.

The second category of content creators is those who share the content created by others without any alterations or changes. It is to be noted that generally, digital content such as blogs, screen displays, social media posts, short online articles, apps, photos, and other website content, are covered by copyright. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter allow posting of material that may be subject to copyright. These social media sites are intermediaries. They do not own the work posted on their site, instead rights are retained by the author or creator of the content. By posting their content on these social media websites, the authors sign an implicit agreement that gives the site a license to use the work and for displaying it. For instance, by signing up on Facebook, you give the social media site the license to ‘host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content’. Similar license terms apply to Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tinder and such licenses are given worldwide and without any royalty.

This means that the author has granted a license to the social media platform to use that content on their platform, but he can still control communication of his work by others, how it can be shared by others and who can share it. Hence sharing or re-posting of a copyrighted user generated content, without the owner’s consent can constitute infringement. This applies even if the access to the content was without any restrictions and the copyright owner licensed his right to the original posting to the social media platform and even if there were no explicit restrictions on use or sharing of the content by the public. So how about user generated original content shared on platforms like social media sites with appropriate open credits to the author and without alteration? While the legality of such content is still a gray area and these may not constitute infringement  if the permission of the owner was sought for such sharing. .




The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

(Source: The University of New South Wales – Sydney. “Who Owns the Content on Social Media?” )?

Source: https://www.thebalancesmb.com/copyrights-and-social-media-issues-397821#citation-6 of place here.

[1][1] Jatindra Kumar Das, Protection of right to reproduce in internet under Copyright Law, (Forensic Research & Criminology International Journal, Volume 6 Issue 5 – 2018), available on http://medcraveonline.com/FRCIJ/FRCIJ-06-00228.pdf, (Last Accessed 15.07.2021).