Intellectual Property and Social Media

Check out more papers on Copyright Copyright Infringement Facebook


Social media has become an important object for the business. Increasing exposure and traffics are the main two benefits of social media. One of the main reason is no language barrier. Social media platforms help to connect with the customers, increase awareness and boost leads and sales. Social media is an effective key for spreading any information. As the increasing use of visual info graphic on social media trademarks has begun to show more interest in various social media platforms. The purpose of this study is to know about the emerging social media era and how it is affecting the IPR of an individual. This study provides a snapshot of the challenges of intellectual property protection in social media landscape.

Rapid advancements in social media are creating challenges for courts, as existing laws were written when social media was not in exist.

Keywords: Social media, intellectual property, internet, social media platforms, business, statistics.


Social media has made many changes to several areas of human venture. Since it is universal that’s why it has raised great concern to humanity and posed a challenge to intellectual property rights and laws. Intellectual property issues which surrounding copyright law, are issues every business is likely to encounter when engaging with customers via social media. Copying and pasting a picture, song, video, document, GIF, or webpage onto your business’ profile to share through social media is easy. And many social media users are doing it. Sharing original works of authors by others, unless you have clear permission to do so it is an violation of the copyright law and meant to protect, and by extension promote, the creation of original content. And intentionally or unintentionally associating your business, your products, or your service with the trademarks of another can open you to liability for infringement.

The business owners are fighting their way to ensure that intellectual property rights are recognized, respected and exploited by the possessors of such rights. This ever expansive authority of intellectual property rights which are embedded in trademarks, copyrights, patents, designs, publicity rights and trade secrets helps to create an authorized ground for the corporate industry to exploit the value of their untouchable assets in an ever increasingly global marketplace.

Recently, a compelling intellectual property debate occurred during the Congressional questioning of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on April 10 and 11, 2018. In which Zukerberg commented that every piece of content that the user shares on Facebook , is own by the user, and the user has complete control over who sees it and how it is shared, and can be removed any time. This comment raises several important questions. One of them was “if a user’s rights in photo or data shared through Facebook depend on Facebook’s disclosures and terms of service, should such disclosures and terms be regulated? If so, how?”

Zuckerberg was asked to appear before Congress after news spread of allegations that a University of Cambridge professor obtained data on potentially 87 million Facebook users, including Zuckerberg himself, through a personality quiz and then shared such data with Cambridge Analytica, whose services were retained by.

Customers, including the 2016 presidential election campaign for Donald Trump. While Congress debates whether it should regulate the content of written terms of service that govern the relationship between social media sites and consumers— much like they regulate loan documents that govern the relationship between lenders and consumers.

What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property is a term used to tell the rights which may result from intellectual activities in the industrial, scientific, literary and artistic spheres and includes patents, trademarks, commercial names and designations, industrial designs, geographical indications, copyright and related rights and protection against unfair competition. The two categories of Intellectual property are:

Industrial Property: It includes patents for inventions, industrial designs, geographical indications and trademarks.

Copyright: It covers literature, films, music, artistic works (e.g., drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures) and architectural design. Rights related to copyright include those of performing artists in their performances, producers of phonograms in their recordings, and broadcasters in their radio and television programs.

Intellectual Property Rights: These are like any other property right. They allow creators, or owners, of patents, trademarks or copyrighted works to benefit from their own work or investment in a creation. These rights are outlined in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provides for the right to benefit from the protection of moral and material interests resulting from authorship of scientific, literary or artistic productions.

There are three intellectual property rights and these are: Patents, Copyright and Trademarks these are the three basics intellectual property rights.

Patents: A patent is a right granted for an invention, product or process that provides a new way of doing something, or that gives a new technical solution to a problem. A patent provides patent owners with protection for their inventions. Protection is granted for a limited period, generally 20 years.

Trademark: A trademark is a distinctive sign that identifies certain goods or services produced or provided by an individual or a company for the protection. The system helps consumer to identify and purchase a product or service based on whether its specific characteristics and quality – as indicated by its unique trademark – meet their needs.

Geographical Indications: A geographical indication is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation due to that place of origin. Most commonly, a geographical indication consists of the name of the place of origin of the products.

Agricultural products have qualities that derive from their place of production and are affected by specific local geographical factors, such as climate and soil.


Because of the exposure of social media it has become increasingly important for individuals and businesses to increase their plans to protect their intellectual property by developing a strategy for addressing infringement of IP and other rights that take place on social media websites. There is a wide range of concerns especially due to the fact that by using the social media, not all users distributed original content, not all users remained their selves, but adopted identities of others, used the social media platforms to harass their real world enemies.

Data collected by Internet World Stats shows the internet usage of the world population is:

Taking into consideration this fact and that today we live in a “digital” society, the concept of intellectual property, is faced with new legal challenges.

The question that arises from this increasing society context is the influence of the social media in everyday life and especially in the protection of intellectual property rights. In today’s world no one can deny the power of the social media, however the issue of controlling this power is rather concerning. With the involvement of the Internet and the social media in our lives it is becoming hard to keep our data safe. This new situation demands the rights holders to ask protection of their intellectual property rights. It is widely known that the value of the intellectual property rights in practice depends on whether the owner of the rights is capable of undertaking necessary measures to prevent others from infringing its rights.

IPRs benefit individuals and the society as mentioned by World Intellectual Property Organization includes:

  1. The multibillion dollar film, recording, publishing and software industries would not exist without copyright protection.
  2. Without the rewards provided by the patent system, researchers and inventors continue to produce better and more efficient products for consumers.
  3. Consumers would have no means to buy products or services without reliable, international trademark.

Following policies are adopted by the famous social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in order to protect IPR of user:


  1. You will not post content or take any action on Facebook that infringes or violates someone else’s rights or otherwise violates the law.
  2. We can remove any content or information you post on Facebook if we believe that it violates this Statement or our policies.
  3. We provide you with tools to help you protect your intellectual property rights. To learn more, visit our How to Report Claims of Intellectual Property Infringement page.
  4. If we remove your content for infringing someone else’s copyright, and you believe we removed it by mistake, we will provide you with an opportunity to appeal.
  5. If you repeatedly infringe other people’s intellectual property rights, we will disable your account when appropriate. ”


Twitter respects the intellectual property rights of others and expects users of the Services to do the same. They will respond to notices of alleged copyright infringement that comply with applicable law and are properly provided to us. If you believe that your Content has been copied in a way that constitutes copyright infringement, do provide them the following information:

  1. 1. A physical or electronic signature of the copyright owner or a person authorized to act on their behalf.
  2. 2. Identification of the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed.
  3. 3. Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity and that is to be removed or access to which is to be disabled, and information reasonably sufficient to permit us to locate the material.
  4. 4. Your contact information, including your address, telephone number, and an email address.
  5. 5. A statement by you that you have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.
  6. 6. A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and, under penalty of perjury, that you are authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner.
  7. 7. Twitter reserve the right to remove Content alleged to be infringing without prior notice, at our sole discretion, and without liability to you. In appropriate circumstances, Twitter will also terminate a user’s account if the user is determined to be a repeat infringer.
  8. 8. Twitter’s Terms of service provide that any copyright infringing content will be taken down. Like Facebook, Twitter also has a form to receive and process infringement complaints. For processing a complaint and taking down content, a complainant must prove that he/she owns the content and the content on Twitter is infringing. Accounts of repeat infringers will be terminated. Twitter has separate policies for trademark and character infringements.


  1. 1. YouTube operates a clear copyright policy in relation to any Content that is alleged to infringe the copyright of a third party. Details of that policy can be found here:
  2. 2. As part of YouTube’s copyright policy, YouTube will terminate user access to the service if a user has been determined to be a repeat infringer. A repeat infringer is a user who has been notified of infringing activity more than twice.”
  3. 3. Like Facebook and Twitter, YouTube also has a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) take down policy for removing copyright infringing content. More than two notifications of infringement will make a user, a repeat infringer on YouTube. Repeat infringement can result in loss of access of account. YouTube also has a complaint form for reporting trademark infringement. A channel that infringes a trademark can be blocked or terminated.

While taking down the content, Social Media platforms must consider whether the use falls within the scope of fair use. Content need not be taken down if the use is fair. In a recent case, YouTube did not take down a video even after receiving a complaint from Universal Music stating that the video includes its copyrighted song, “Let’s Go Crazy.” A child was shown dancing in the song, and YouTube considered it fair use.

There are two main reasons for protection of intellectual property rights. The first is to give required expression to the moral and economic rights of creators in their creations and such rights of the public in access to those creations. The second is to promote, as a deliberate act of Government policy, creativity and application of its results and to encourage fair trading which would contribute to economic and social development.


Why are patents necessary?

By recognizing the creativity, patents provide rewards to individual for their innovation and marketable invention which in turn enhances the quality of human life. In this era of social media environment which has opened the gates of transparency for every individual, trademarks could be lost and as such, prosecuting its infringement can be challenging if its uniqueness is not highlighted. Trade-marks must be distinctive and must not be confused with the brands or trade-marks of others. If the owner does not take steps to prevent or stop infringements of the trade-mark, the uniqueness of the mark could be lost and the trade-mark could then be open to challenge. Social media can increase the risk to trade-mark owners of losing uniqueness in their marks and therefore potentially risk the trade-mark itself. That is because of the widespread spreading of information through social media and the lack of control trade-mark owners can have over their brands, such that the distinctiveness can be taken away over time.

WIPO identifies the essence of trademarks thus:

  1. 1. Trademarks promote initiative and enterprise worldwide by rewarding their owners with recognition and financial profit.
  2. 2. Trademark protection also hinders the efforts of unfair competitors, such as counterfeiters, to use similar distinctive signs to market inferior or different products or services.
  3. 3. The system enables people with skill and enterprise to produce and market goods and services in the fairest possible conditions, thereby facilitating international trade. Trademark protection ensures that the owners of marks have the exclusive right to use them to identify goods or services, or to authorize others to use them in return for payment. The period of protection varies, but a trademark can be renewed indefinitely upon payment of the corresponding fees. Trademark protection is legally enforced by courts that, in most systems, have the authority to stop trademark infringement.


With the arrival of social media, intellectual property issues have been confronted with new and sometimes complex challenges.

The social media technologies that encourage the sharing of contents across different communication channels have brought about new difficulties in enforcing copyright, and inspired additional challenges to the basic legal philosophy of copyright. The global entertainment industry in particular has fought diligently against the free use, copying, and distribution of electronic music, videos, and movies.

Many businesses in their bid to protect their intellectual property have advocated for the same copyright protection to be extended to new media.

There is a wide range of concerns especially due to the fact that by using the social media, not all users distributed original content, not all users remained their selves, but adopted identities of others, used the social media platforms to harass their real world enemies. The large amount of cases that have arisen around the world show that “user generated content” is not the same thing as “user created content”.

Content exchanged between individuals online is not always “content generated by a user” but, rather, “content created by a copyright holder who has not authorized its generation by the user. In other words, its publication in social media is said to constitute a breach of the holder’s copyright.

The nature of social media is both a curse and a blessing for rights holders. The blessing is that content that violates rights might be deleted.From social media sites before they have been widely viewed, downloaded or shared.Unwanted questions abound on the Internet. This means that many times one can get materials that one did not subscribe to. There appears to be ‘nowhere to hide’ for many people, in terms of their privacy i.e. privacy intrusion takes place.

Intellectual property rights are rights given to people over the creation of their minds. Creators such as authors, artists, inventors, designers, musicians, photographers, producers and directors are entitled to exclusive rights to use and economically exploit their work. These rights must be respected by all. Thus, when one uses another’s work, credit must be given to the owner of such work resulting in intellectual property theft.


While social media channels and social platforms represent an opportunity for collaboration and marketing in a new paradigm of communication, one must be mindful of the potential legal issues that may arise. As long as a forward looking, proactive, and coordinated strategy is taken in regards to potential disclosures, an organization may be able to market to the public via social media while avoiding accidently triggering grace periods and or losses to intellectual property rights.

Did you like this example?

Cite this page

Intellectual Property and Social Media. (2019, Feb 20). Retrieved July 13, 2024 , from

Save time with Studydriver!

Get in touch with our top writers for a non-plagiarized essays written to satisfy your needs

Get custom essay

Stuck on ideas? Struggling with a concept?

A professional writer will make a clear, mistake-free paper for you!

Get help with your assignment
Leave your email and we will send a sample to you.
Stop wasting your time searching for samples!
You can find a skilled professional who can write any paper for you.
Get unique paper

I'm Amy :)

I can help you save hours on your homework. Let's start by finding a writer.

Find Writer