A popular idea behind multiple youtube channels is to pick a certain topic (say, a tv-series) and then post the reactions that people have to that topic on social media, whether that be a post on twitter or an uploaded image (like a meme) on instagram or facebook.

Here's an example from football: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPuEqdf-za0

Is there any illegality to such videos?

Specifically, I am wondering whether

  1. using people's posts on social media (containing only text) and presenting them in a youtube video is lawful, and how it depends on whether the name or profile picture associated with that social media account is visible,
  2. and also whether there's an issue if the post on social media contains not only text, but, say, an image, which may be their own creation or taken from somebody else (or a combination, for example one of those "meme"-images with photos overlayed with some funny text). Does this change the issue?

2 Answers 2


This is going to depend a good deal on there exact nature of the clips being reused. it will also depend, at least somewhat, on what country or countries the various parties are in.

General Principle

The general principle is that a peerson's post on social media is protected by copyright, just as all original works are. It is a copyright infringement to copy and redistribute the, unless permission has been granted by the copyright holder (normally the author in the case of a social media post, as those are rarely sold) or an exception to copyright applies.


There are various ways in which permission might be granted.

The re-user might directly email (or otherwise reach out to) the original author and ask, and be granted permission.

The original author might have released some or all of his or her posts under a permissive license.

Some social media might require that posts be released under a permissive license, or otherwise automatically grant such permissions. Remember that Wikipedia, for example, mandates that all posts and contributions be released under a CC-BY-SA license, although posters have the option to add an additional alternate license, or more than one.


The most obvious exception is Fair use, if the parties are (or at least the re-user is) in the US. People sometimes speak as if fair use is a world-wide legal rule. it is a very specifically US legal concept. Some other countries have a somewhat similar concept, known in English as "Fair Dealing". It is, i understand, rather moore limited than fair use. This law.se question and its answer discusses fair use in some detail.

Most of the posts being reused here have no market, and so their re-use cannot harm the market. That would weigh for fair use. If the re-user uses the whole post, or a substantial part of it, that would weigh against fair use. If the re-user inserts significant comment on each re-used post, that would be analytical if not transformational, and would weigh for fair use. If the re-use is monetized, that would weigh against fair use somewhat.

In short, we cn't tell in general if fair use would apply to any particular post being re-used. it might or it might not. Specifics will control, and ultimately it is a judgement call to eb made by a court, if the matter comes to that.


Unless the copyright holder for a given post files an infringement suit, or files a take-down notice, or complains to the host site, there will be no enforcement and no consequences. If a complaint or a take-down is filed, the host could remove the content, cancel the re-user's account, or both. If the user has monetized the re-use, ad revenue can be redirected to the copyright owner.

If the copyright holder files an infringement suit, and wins, there will be an award of damages, which might be quite small, or rather large. But with no market for the original, and probably little or no income from the re-use, low damages are more likely than high. And the original copyright holder would have filing fees, legal expenses, and possibly other expenses in advance.

There are firms with which one can register one's copyrighted work, who search for it being improperly used and take action, in return for a small up-front fee and a share of any damages recovered. But posters of general opinion on social media seem unlikely to use such services.


Such a “Social Media Reacts”-video is somewhat risky, from a copyright perspective, but the likely negative outcomes are not large. Asking permission whenever possible, and trying to stay within the fair-use principles (if they apply) will reduce those risks.

  • 1
    @Putvi Most of them are at least arguably fair use, but more importantly, most Twitter posters want additional exposure, and are very unlikely to sue or complain. But some might, unless Twitter imposes a permissive license the way Wikipedia does, and i don't believe that it does. Apr 23, 2019 at 23:06
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    The fact that a particular type of potential copyright violation is widespread doesn't make it suddenly not a potential copyright violation. Unless there is circumstance excepting the requirement for permission (it being news, commentary is probably the most likely defence) it is not legally allowed. @Putvi
    – user4657
    Apr 23, 2019 at 23:19
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    @Putvi I have read it, several times. It permits broadcast, using twitter's service, of tweets from others, subject to some limitations (deleted content will be removed, for example). It does not permit what the question describes, a video including reactions from multiple social media sites. Apr 24, 2019 at 17:14
  • 1
    If the TOS allowed it, you can point to a specific section or paragraph that justifies this. Vague waving and screaming that we need to do something, when we already checked for ourselves, does not support your conclusion. Instead it only strengthens the proposition that you actually don't have such a reference, don't understand the TOS you read, and/or don't know what you're talking about.
    – user4657
    Apr 24, 2019 at 21:53
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    Well, look them up and demonstrate that your answer is correct, and the downvotes won't happen or will be reversed. Stop complaining about the downvotes when you keep doing things that get downvoted and refuse to do things that would get upvotes.
    – user4657
    Apr 24, 2019 at 23:21

The answer is no, those videos are not illegal. Twitter allows you to rebroadcast a tweet as long as you use their service to do it.

Twitter has an evolving set of rules for how ecosystem partners can interact with your Content on the Services. These rules exist to enable an open ecosystem with your rights in mind. You understand that we may modify or adapt your Content as it is distributed, syndicated, published, or broadcast by us and our partners and/or make changes to your Content in order to adapt the Content to different media. You represent and warrant that you have all the rights, power and authority necessary to grant the rights granted herein to any Content that you submit. https://www.howtogeek.com/310158/are-other-people-allowed-to-use-my-tweets/

The tweets used in the video are screenshots of twitter, so that is using the twitter service.

Read the TOS of the specific social site for each case, but most of the popular ones have similar policies.

The other answer is right in that some tweets can be copyrighted though. https://www.wipo.int/wipo_magazine/en/2009/04/article_0005.html

  • The question specifically asked about distributing such a video via youtube not Twitter, and coiling them from multiple sources, including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and perhaps other sources. So the quoted provision does not apply, at least not to all such cases. Moreover, i have read the Twitter TOS. It is not at all clear to what extent they require posters to allow others to reuser their content in this way, and if a poster deletes a tweat, it seems that any such license is terminated, and Twitter will removed the re-used content. This does not answer the Q. Apr 23, 2019 at 23:29
  • No, it specifically says "broadcast" which would refer to video.
    – Putvi
    Apr 23, 2019 at 23:33
  • The question starts: "A popular idea behind multiple youtube channels...", and the given example is on youtube. The question mentions including "reactions that people have to that topic on social media, whether that be a post on twitter or an uploaded image (like a meme) on instagram or facebook." That doesn't sound like twitter-only to me. Apr 23, 2019 at 23:37
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    @ Putvi Your answer said "Twitter allows you to rebroadcast a tweet as long as you use their service to do it. " but that refers to a Twitter-only situation, otherwise Twitter's TOS does not apply, or cannot grant the needed permission. In short your answer does not apply to the situation described in the question, only to a somewhat related and more limited situation. Twitter cannot grant permission to reuse content from Facebook or Instagram, and it does not grant permission to use tweets on non-twitter services. Apr 23, 2019 at 23:41
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    You get voted down because you repeatedly tell everybody else to look it up, which defeats the purpose of using Stack Exchange Q&A, instead of just doing it first and putting the results in your answer.
    – user4657
    Apr 24, 2019 at 22:01

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