The Dos and Don’ts of Social Media Trends and Music Copyright

Brett Dembrow – Imagine spending hours planning, recording, and editing a video to post on social media, only for it to be taken down within minutes. More likely than not, the video was removed due to a copyright infringement regarding the music you used in the video. Musical artists and sound engineers alike have a shared interest in protecting their intellectual property. These creators generate income based on their property, and the value of the property would decrease if just anyone could pass it off as their own. While Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube may differ in some respects, their intellectual property protection practices are almost identical.

Facebook & Instagram

According to Facebook’s Music Guidelines, users are responsible for the content they post, and if a post contains music owned by someone else, the content may be blocked or reviewed by the applicable rights owner. If the rights owner deems the user did not have proper authorization to share the content, the post will be removed. Additionally, Facebook has a feature called Live where users can livestream their experience to their network. However, if users choose to create a music listening experience for themselves or for others via Live, the user’s video, page, profile or group may be blocked. Under Facebook’s Terms of Service and Community Standards, users can only post content to Facebook that doesn’t violate someone else’s intellectual property rights. It’s possible to infringe someone else’s copyright when you post their content on Facebook, even if you purchased or downloaded the content, or gave credit to the copyright owner.

Before you post content on Facebook, you may want to ask:

  • Did I create all aspects of this content myself?
  • Do I have permission to use all of the content included in my post?
  • Does my use of the content fall within an exception to copyright infringement?
  • Is the content protected by copyright (ex: is it a short phrase, idea or public domain work?)


According to TikTok’s intellectual property policy, the platform does not permit any content to be posted which does not have the proper authorization from the intellectual property owner. However, the policy explicitly states that the fair use of certain music or sounds may constitute an exception to the copyright infringement policy. Fair use promotes freedom of expression by allowing individuals to use protected intellectual property in certain circumstances. The balancing test examines four elements:

  • The purpose and character of the use
  • The nature of the copyrighted work
  • The amount or substantiality of the portion used
  • The effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the work

Users have the ability to contact TikTok regarding a copyright infringement claim; however, up to 85% of TikTok’s claims resulted in the removal of content from the platform.


The Google-owned platform has implemented two different methods to limit copyright violations by its users, Content ID and the Copyright Match Tool. Content ID allows those who hold the intellectual property rights to compare its property to the content users posts in their individual videos. For example, if a user uploaded a video with a Bon Jovi song, Content ID searches its database for anything that may match the uploaded content. According to YouTube, if the system matches the content to the original property, further action is taken:

  • Block a whole video from being viewed. Creators do not receive a copyright strike if the content owner blocks a video.
  • Monetize the video by running ads against it; in some cases, sharing revenue with the uploader.
  • Track the video’s viewership statistics.

Typically, those who hold the rights will opt to monetize the video by running ads in exchange for allowing the video to stay posted.

Secondly, YouTube uses its Copyright Match Tool to determine whether or not a video has been re-uploaded after being removed from the platform. The system scans over 1,500,000 channels, and if a match is found, the original creator can request that the video be removed, message the uploader, or just ignore the match. Ultimately, the copyright owners, not YouTube, decide what to do with videos that contain their work.

At the end of the day, if you decide you’re going to spend hours working on a dance routine to a remix of a song from Taylor Swift’s newest album, make sure you are not infringing on any intellectual property rights by doing so. Using fair use intellectual property will likely protect your content from being removed, such as Instagram’s copyright free Facebook Sound Collection.

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