Copyright and Social Media

Legal stumbling blocks in social networks.
Posts. Likes. Shares.

Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Co. have become an integral part of the lives of many people. Because through these platforms, we now share the most diverse aspects of our lives with the online community as a matter of course. In the digital world of post and likes, legal rules and regulations can quickly fall into oblivion. However, if you want to reduce the risk of costly warnings, you should be aware that copyright law also applies to social media.

What does copyright protect?
Copyright law is a legal norm that deals with the use and protection of intellectual creations. The rights for such works lie exclusively with their creator, the so-called author. The author can thus freely decide at what point in time he makes his work accessible to the public and whether it should bear the name of the author as an author designation. Also, the author also has the right to protect his creation from infringements. The protection against a possible distortion of the work applies even if the editing is a visible improvement because the legislator assumes that the author has in principle, created the best possible result. Also, only the author may determine how his work may be used; third parties must, therefore, obtain his consent.

Legal stumbling blocks in social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Co. (unfortunately) still exist – so that companies can concentrate on their daily business, there are digital agencies.

This far-reaching, cultural, legal protection mainly covers works from the fields of literature, science, and art. As a result, texts, photos, videos, and music distributed in social media may be protected by copyright.

Posting, likening, sharing – what does copyright say about social media?
In principle, it should be noted that copyright law is also valid in social media and all other areas of the Internet. However, it is not always clear to the users of the various networks which legal backgrounds apply to actions such as likenesses, parts, and posts and what consequences a corresponding copyright infringement can have.

The term “post” is generally used to describe contributions to social networks. Create one, publish the text or an image, and share it with your friends or the world, depending on your privacy settings. Copyright describes this technique as “making it publicly available.” Therefore, you should only post content if you are authorized to do so. There are usually the following options. Either you are the author and have taken the photo yourself, or the creator has allowed you to publish it. If none of the options applies, the post office may be in breach of copyright in social media, which may result in a warning.

With a “Like,” you can show what you like in the social networks. However, the click is more than just a pure expression of opinion. The information collected in this way makes it possible, among other things, to place individually tailored advertisements. The significance of a “Gefällt-mir” information according to copyright law has been controversial so far. After all, the illegal contributions are also displayed in one’s profile.

If we like a song, video or pictures very much, we want to share it with friends and other contacts. However, this distribution can also cause copyright problems because you need the explicit consent of the author. This is generally deemed to be the case if the creator offers an option on his website to share the content in the social media or if he posts this himself on Facebook and the like. For this reason, it makes sense to find out the actual author before sharing a contribution.

Copyright infringement in the social media
The use and distribution of third-party copyrighted content via social media can lead to legal disputes in the event of unlawful use. As a rule, in the event of copyright infringement, the rights owners seek an out-of-court settlement using a warning letter. On the one hand, the warning states the legal violation explicitly and, on the other hand, the injured party can assert various claims with the letter. These include, for example, the injunction claim, which is usually enforced by a cease-and-desist declaration and is intended to prevent further copyright infringements in the future. Also, as a rule, there is also a claim for damages, which represents financial compensation for the offense. How high the injuries and other costs of the warning turn out in the case of a violation of copyright generally depends on the concrete violation.

Professional association of the right journalists registered the association.

The Berufsverband der Rechtsjournalisten e.V. created this guest article and published by DeSight Studio GmbH. The BvDR registered association is the union of right journalists and attorneys from Germany, who publish legal contributions to most diverse topics on the portals,,, and