Pages Navigation Menu

Publishing memes also means
knowing copyright rules QT14

Share

Memes.

Entertainment. Political statements. A way to comment on issues, events, people.

And, if not done correctly, says Mark Goodman, Knight Chair in Scholastic Journalism, a way to violate the owner’s copyright. A violation several owners pursued.

If it’s not considered fair use, student media could be sued for copyright infringement or receive a letter demanding payment for use of the copyrighted work.

There is not much precedent about the use of memes and whether they are considered a fair use under copyright law.

That is the ultimate question.

If students comment on the meme itself, their use is probably going to be considered a fair use and it should be fine. Attribution is ethically appropriate but it’s not legally required.

On the other hand, if students use the meme because it illustrates something they want to say and they’re not engaged in some commentary about the original copyright work, it wouldn’t be a fair use, even if you attribute it. And in either case, attribution isn’t really a factor. Attributing a work to its source doesn’t avoid a copyright infringement claim.


Guideline and policy

Although most copyright owners might not complain about the use of their work in a meme, some have pursued payment from individuals who used their images without permission.

Being careful is wise.

Key points/action: There is not much precedent about the use of memes and whether they are considered a fair use under copyright law. That is the ultimate question.

If it’s not considered fair use, you could be sued for copyright infringement or receive a letter demanding payment for use of the copyrighted work.

Stance: If your students are commenting on the meme itself, their use is probably going to be considered a fair use and it should be fine. Attribution is ethically appropriate but it’s not legally required.

Reasoning/suggestions: On the other hand, if your students are using the meme because it illustrates something they want to say and they’re not engaged in some commentary about the original copyright work, it wouldn’t be a fair use, even if you attribute it. And in either case, attribution isn’t really a factor. Attributing a work to its source doesn’t avoid a copyright infringement claim.

Another potential copyright concern is with video dubs. Although a common event in some schools, video dubs need to be handled with legal and ethical care. It is essential, if the product is to go on the web, it is essential to follow all copyright requirements.

Guidelines for these may be found here.

Student media set a strong model for others to follow, so it is incumbent on them to follow copyright laws and ethical guidelines.

Resources: Mark Goodman, Knight Chair in Scholastic Journalism, Kent State University, September 2017.

How copyright is killing your favorite memes

Read my lips: Students should exercise caution when producing lip sync videos

Video dubs

Related: These points and other decisions about mission statement, forum status and editorial policy should be part of a Foundations Package  that protects journalistically responsible student expression.

 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *