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Copying and pasting on Facebook; legal or not?

 

Social media can be a bit of a free-for-all when it comes to posting and sharing content, much to the chagrin of those trying to market this lifted content.

But are the likes of Facebook and Twitter really lawless badlands where content is ripped and shared with no fear of consequence? Not quite.

 

 

La Trobe University has put together a detailed list of what passes muster under Australian copyright law, and there are many protections for content.

You can read the full list here, but the general thing to remember is that social media copyright is based on each individual component, not the page or account as a whole.

 

If you are using someone else’s content, the law does mandate that you need their permission to do so.

The exceptions to this are:

  • Fair dealing, when you are using the material for research, study, review, news reporting or parody

  • Linking and embedding content

  • When the copyright has expired and the material is now public domain

  • Short excerpts used in posts

 

While these exceptions in the Copyright Act are helpful, they are not perfect and were not built with the internet in mind.

Australia does not enjoy the fair use defence that businesses in the United States enjoys, which means sharing a newspaper article through your business page can breach copyright in Australia.

And the consequences can be severe, albeit rarely applied, and can range from fines all the way up to jail time.