Let's say someone draws a simply character design for a meme (2min drawing) and then just posts a meme with said character on fb/reddit/etc.

Is this character (or the part of the image where this character is displayed) now protected in any way? Could I for example just use the part of the image where this character is displayed in my own work if my work would generate money?

  • The character is not protected by copyright, but the image is.
    – phoog
    Aug 19, 2021 at 19:30
  • If it is a creative work, it doesn't matter whether it took 2 minutes to draw, 2 hours, or 2 days.
    – Brandin
    Aug 24, 2021 at 14:26

3 Answers 3


Of course it’s protected

It’s an original artistic work.

  • So the person who drawed the image can decide if he wants to take legal actions against someone who uses his work? So I guess to use his work, I need to ask the person if I am allowed to use it. But how can such thing be done if the author is unknown? How can I asks the author if the meme is shared by thousends and the image has no markings or clues about the author? (Should I asks this as new question?) Aug 19, 2021 at 8:21
  • 1
    No. You should ask this as several new questions. But before you do, search the site: most have been asked before.
    – Dale M
    Aug 19, 2021 at 9:04
  • 3
    To use a copyrighted image legally, you need permission of the author. If you don't know the author, or you cannot contact the author, or the author doesn't reply to you, or the author replies "No" when you ask for permission, in all those cases you don't have permission of the author, and you can't use the image.
    – gnasher729
    Aug 19, 2021 at 11:42
  • this would be subject to the terms & conditions of the site, some of which expressly allow the site to re-publish your work.
    – Tiger Guy
    Aug 19, 2021 at 16:52
  • @gnasher729 How can I be sure I speak to the author of this image if it's already uploaded on nearly every image site? What if I just search for the first apperiance of this image and ask the uploader and get a 'yes, you can use it' but in reality this person is not the real author. Isn't something like that impossible to prove? Aug 24, 2021 at 9:27

The image is protected unless it is so simple and uncreative that it does not rise to the low degree of originality needed for copyright protection. A simple stick figure might not, for example.

If the image is protected, neither the whole image not any significant part of it may be used without permission, unless an exception to copyright, such as fair use or fair dealing applies.



As long as it is something unique enough to be copyrightable (something a like stick figure, etc. would not be) you, your children, and possible your grand-children can rest happy knowing that it is protected under EU copyright directive for at least the rest of your life, then 70 more years after you die.

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