Sometimes you’ve read an interesting story, saw a great picture or would like to share a quote. Are you allowed to do that? Most of this work is protected by copyright, which means there are some restrictions according to sharing, publishing and copying. As a basic rule, you should always ask permission to copy or publish work from others; also on social media. There are a few exceptions.

Social Media Buttons

It is like creative commons, but for social media. When a website has certain social media buttons, they want you to share the content. Why have social media buttons when you won’t allow sharing, right? So the social media button is a good indication. At least the website owner allows you to share the content on the social media platforms it provides the buttons for.

In case of content of which the website owner does not own the copyright, it might be a little bit difficult. The writer of a guest blog post does not always grant permission for sharing. Photos might be used under the quotation exception, but won’t be a citation anymore as soon as you post it on social media without enough context.

I actually think you shouldn’t worry to much about it. Most people who already granted permission to post their work on that website, know that the website uses social media buttons. They will understand that their work might be shared.Share Copyrighted Work Via Social Media

Content on Social Media

Did someone post his own work on social media? Then you are allowed to share it within that same social media platform. Hence the Terms & Conditions of most social media platforms that state that you grand permission to republish your work. More about that in my blog post from last month. This does not give you permission to post something on Twitter that you have found on Facebook. But then again: when someone already agreed on sharing it on Facebook, most of them won’t be bothered when you repost it on Twitter or any other social media platform.

Quotation exception

Yes, the quotation exception also applies on social media. The quotation exception basically means that it is allowed to use work of others when this work is just a quotation and not all its work and when this work is only part of something bigger. For instance a picture of Pepita in an article about her work or a quote from another article about social media marketing that you will use in your article about your view on social media marketing. Just remember that you are not allowed to copy the whole article or to use the photo with only a title. The quotation must be a small part of something bigger.
So, you don’t need permission, but please don’t forget to mention the original author. Give credits.


Social media is not different from any other medium. The usual copyright laws apply.

Are you in the United States? They also have something that is called the fair use exception. Not something I am an expert about, but worth looking into!

Social media usually makes sharing easier. In two ways actually. Most website owners allow sharing by providing social media buttons. Some authors already share their work on social media. This means they allow sharing. That is what the Terms & Conditions of most social media platforms state. The only thing you always have to do is to give credit. Name the author and preferably also the original source. Especially when you make use of the quotation exception.

This blog post is not a substitute for legal advice. It may not cover important issues that affect you. You should consult with your own lawyer if you have any questions with regard to copyright law pertaining to your situation. Of course you can also contact the author of this article for advice.
Charlotte Meindersma is an information law lawyer, based in The Hague, The Netherlands. She is a lawyer for creative and small businesses. She likes to ‘translate’ difficult issues into understandable words. You can read her Dutch law blogs here or follow her on Twitter and Facebook. Charlotte is writing a monthly series of blogs about legal issues small business owners run into when marketing their business online, internationally, and through social media.