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I see videos and images from Twitter feeds, and they are full of stuff without copyright notices.

This is just one small example, I see thousands of posts all with sound, or video or images taken from somewhere else.

Sometimes these posts can be used to make money, however indirectly, such as increasing your following, which you can then serve ads to on your website or through YouTube ads, etc..

Youtube doesn't allow you to upload a direct song of a famous artist, and there are other copyright infringement blocking attempts made by Twitter and other platforms when you try and upload something.

But in general, what is the law here, is social media basically one big loophole in the law where you are allowed to use copyrighted material? Why couldn't you do the same thing but put your "posts" on your own website with ads? I don't see the difference. Hoping to understand why millions of people are allowed to essentially copyright infringe using social media, yet you aren't allowed to put the same images/sounds/videos on your own blog or website.

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  • In many cases on Twitter (And other social media sites), people aren't posting the content itself, but rather a link to the content (and then the social media site renders it). No copyright infringement has occurred - the user hasn't posted anything. Mar 12, 2023 at 3:50

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There is no difference

When you copy something there are 3 possibilities:

  1. It’s definitely legal: you own the rights, you have permission (a licence) from the person who owns the rights, or the work is public domain.
  2. It’s possibly legal: you are posting without permission on the basis that it falls into an exemption to copyright like fair use or fair dealing as applicable.
  3. It’s illegal: you don’t have permission and there is no exemption.

Note that is on you as publisher. It is not on the platform or ISP that hosts the content. They have protection under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) or equivalent in other countries.

So if you post infringing material on Twitter or Facebook or your own website, you can be sued by the copyright holder. However, Twitter and Facebook can’t be provided they remove the infringing material in accordance with the law.

When looking at stuff posed by other people, there is no way to know which category it’s in - that’s between them and the copyright holder.

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Social media is not a legal loophole, but it may be an enforcement loophole. The primary legal "loophole" is the DMCA takedown safe harbor, that a content provider can avoid liability for infringement if they follow certain procedures. This means that Tube and other user-content purveyors can be more hands-off in gate-keeping (compared to a regular print publisher). A print publisher has to actively worry about whether stuff they print infringes copyright, where they could be held vicariously liable for infringement. Online platforms have a special dispensation, requiring that they take down supposedly infringing material when notified (in a particular way). The essential legal difference is that you put up the material on your blog, and you but not Tube put up the infringing content on social media. You will be held liable in both cases; the platform will not be.

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