Intellectual Property Rights in the Digital Age: Copyrights and Social Media Content


Intellectual property rights play a pivotal role in the protection of creative works. Copyright law is designed to protect the intellectual property of creators, giving them exclusive rights to their work and enabling them to derive benefits from their creations. In the digital landscape, where social media has become an integral part of communication and content sharing, copyright law is more relevant than ever, and provides a framework in which sharing, reposting, and creating content on these platforms can be governed. This blog explores the intricacies of copyright law in Australia and its implications in the age of social media.

Copyright Law in the Digital Age

Copyright is a legal protection that grants creators exclusive rights to their original works, preventing others from using, reproducing, or distributing them without permission. In Australia, copyright protection is inherent, meaning that it automatically comes into play as soon as a work is created, either physically or digitally. The internet and social media have revolutionised the way content is created, shared, and consumed, making copyright law especially relevant in the current climate. Many people may not realise that posting content on social media doesn’t automatically grant others the right to use or reproduce that content – copyright still applies, and violations can lead to legal consequences.

Copyright Considerations in Social Media

When sharing, reposting, or creating content on social media platforms, it’s essential to consider copyright implications:

Original Content:

If you create original content, you automatically hold the copyright to it. You can choose how others use your content through licences or permissions. Common practices include rights and permissions included in social media bios or terms and conditions added to websites.

Sharing Others’ Content:

Reposting or sharing someone else’s work on social media requires their permission or adherence to fair dealing principles. In addition, it is considered good practice to include proper credits when reposting.

Fair Use:

In Australia, fair dealing provisions permit limited use of copyrighted material for purposes such as research, news reporting, criticism, or parody, however only in certain circumstances. It is important to understand the boundaries of fair dealing prior to using or sharing content you don’t own.

Understanding Licensing Terms, Fair Use, and Permissions

To use others’ content on social media while respecting copyright laws, it’s crucial to understand licensing terms, fair use, and permissions:

Licensing Terms:

Creators can licence their work under various terms which specify how their content can be used. Creative Commons is a not-for-profit organisation which allows creators globally to control how their work is used, including conditions like whether it can be in a commercial or non-commercial capacity.

Fair Dealing:

Fair dealing is a complex concept, allowing for limited use of copyrighted material for specific purposes, however the boundaries are not always clear. Maguire & McInerney can provide industry specific guidelines on how best to share content.


When in doubt, ask for permission from the content creator to use their work. Written permission is the safest way to ensure you are not infringing on copyright.

Legal Actions and Remedies

Enforcing copyright is essential to protect creators and their works. In Australia, several legal actions are available for enforcing copyright against infringing parties:

Cease and Desist Letters:

Owners of the creative, or copyright owners, can send cease and desist letters to individuals or entities infringing on their copyright. This is often a preliminary step before legal action.

Legal Proceedings:

Copyright owners can initiate legal proceedings to stop copyright infringement. This can result in court orders, damages, and the removal of infringing content.

Monetary Compensation:

Copyright owners may be entitled to monetary compensation for damages caused by copyright infringement.

If you’re facing copyright charges, or are concerned your creative may have been used without your permission, Maguire & McInerney can help. With a wealth of experience across a variety of business sectors, including social media laws and business and company law, the team is equipped to help you no matter the area.


Copyright law is more relevant than ever, especially when it comes to sharing, reposting, and creating content on social media platforms. It’s crucial to respect copyright, understand licensing terms, and be aware of the legal actions and remedies available for copyright enforcement. If you’re unsure about copyright issues in your content, it’s always wise to seek legal advice to avoid potential adverse legal consequences in the ever-evolving landscape of the digital age. Call Maguire & McInerney today to book an appointment to discuss your options.