Photo Sharing on Social Media & Copyright Infringement: What You Need to Know

Do you share images in your personal social media or in social marketing?  Wondering if you’re violating copyright laws?  With some education, you can learn to protect yourself and your business from a copyright infringement lawsuit.

Today, social media gives the user the amazing ability to share content instantly.  Sharing other people’s photos is something a lot of us do frequently on social media.  We see a beautiful, inspirational, thoughtful or educational photo that we want to share with our friends, so we post it without much thought.  But, is this considered copyright infringement?

Is it okay to retweet?  Sure.  Is it okay to re-pin images on Pinterest?  Maybe.  Is it okay to repost on Instagram?  Sometimes.  It is important to remember that all social media platforms have different rules and take big steps to protect themselves and their users.  To know what is or isn’t acceptable for each platform, find a comfortable spot and read each platform’s Terms of Service.

With new social media platforms and photo sharing apps becoming more and more popular, the risk of copyright infringement through the sharing of photos is more present now than ever before. Not to mention, many social media platforms give the ability to re-post, save or share other people’s content. When so many options are available, allowing you to share someone’s photo at the click of a button, it is easy to forget about the possible legal implications of what you do on social media.

Rory Kay of McDonald Carano, sat down with to discuss points to consider when sharing or posting photos online. The first lesson: “Technology has always moved faster than the law, and that is especially true with new social media platforms and photo sharing apps coming out seemingly every week,” Kay explained.

In fact, as of May 2016, it was estimated there were over two billion people worldwide that are now using social media, and sharing content is the lifeblood of most social media. As the courts and policymakers try to work through how to protect content shared through social media and photo sharing apps while still fostering creativity, more authors now understand the protections available to them for their copyrights and are looking to enforce their rights.

“Right now, it’s the perfect combination of volume posting in social media and a dearth of case law on cases involving social-media related copyright,” Kay explained. “It’s in that atmosphere of uncertainty that we currently operate.”

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By Amanda G. Ciccatelli, Dec 15, 2017

About McDonald Carano

McDonald Carano has helped to shape the Nevada business and legal landscape for nearly 70 years. With more than 60 lawyers and government affairs professionals in our offices in Las Vegas and Reno, we are Nevada's law firm for business. We proudly represent Fortune 500 companies, financial and governmental institutions, fast-growth and mid-market companies, entrepreneurs, start-up ventures, non-profit organizations and individuals. Our attorneys deliver cross-discipline, one-stop, commercial law and government affairs counsel. Our dedication to clients, innovative thinking and practical solutions based in sound business and legal judgments are at the heart of our practice. For more information, visit, call 775.788.2000 (Reno office), or 702.873.4100 (Las Vegas office) or reach us by email at

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