Volume 49, Issue 1
2017 Writing Competition 2nd Place winner
Maya Fe Holzhauer, Northeastern School of Law
Copyright and Social Media: What Does it Meme?
Paper Summary
Internet memes have become a widespread phenomenon with millions of memes being created and shared daily. Although meme creators usually do not own the copyright in the underlying work, there has been little litigation regarding memes and copyright infringement. This paper examines why legal claims based on copyright infringement are unlikely to succeed against meme creators. It starts with an overview of Instagram, a common social media platform for posting memes, and a discussion of memes generally. Next, this paper debates how copyright law would interact with memes, and why courts would likely find most memes to be exempt from copyright infringement under the doctrine of fair use. Finally, this paper touches on the fact that although copyright law will likely not police memes, those who find images of themselves turned into memes may have some legal protection under a theory of an invasion of privacy.