Guide to Rights in Your Photos, Video, and Other Content and Creative Work Online

Do I have rights to content I create and put on the internet or social media?

In general, yes. This mostly falls under copyright law, which fully applies to the internet. But it does get tricky, particularly for social media. The original content you create and post on the internet and social media, including blog posts, status updates that you write*, or photos/videos that you have taken or created**, is generally your property and you own the copyright. This means you get to decide what to do with the content, and what others do or don’t do with it.

*Writings need to be a substantial length to be given copyright protection. There is no exact number of characters or words to qualify; a tweet probably is too short, but it’s not impossible to copyright a tweet.

**You generally own a photo when you have pressed the button to take the photo. It doesn’t matter if you are in the photo or not. However, make sure the subject matter of the photo doesn’t violate privacy law.

However, social media platforms, including Facebook, often include in their Terms of Use that by using the site you agree to give the site the right to use your content however they want. The Terms also usually state that you give the right to other users to share your content. You aren’t giving up ownership of the content though, and you can stop their use of the content by deleting it from Facebook.

What should I do if I see a website stealing my copyrighted material?

You have the right to require that any website that displays your copyrighted materials without your permission quickly remove it from the site.1Digital Millennium Copyright Act When do I “own” material?

To get your copyrighted material taken down from a website, you simply need to send the website or host of the website a “DMCA Takedown Notice.” See here for details on takedown notices.

Further Resources

Guide to Rights in Creative Content

Guide to Laws About Posting Content Online

Guide to Laws for Bloggers and Website Owners

Get Legal Help

Photo credit: Photo by Erik Lucatero on Unsplash


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