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An Analysis: Memes And Copyright Laws

Memes are protected by copyright law. Memes generally influence the opinion of the general public. Social media and memes are the two sides of the same coin and they go hand in hand When any image, quote or video etc. by an act of copying is passed from one person to another that is considered a meme. Meme sharing is one of the continuous activities. According to Instagram, more than 1 lakh memes are shared daily.

The culture of memes is getting popular these days in society. Memes are basically created for fun. Memes are basically created on satire, sarcasm, parody Section 2(c) of the Copyright Act 1957 defines artistic work as any painting or sculpture or a drawing, engravement on wood or marble or any architectural work.

According to section 14(c) of the Copyright Act 1957, the rights holder is granted authority to give authorization to someone to create something Which is an exact copy of his copyrighted work.

The copying of memes is rapid and is easily getting viral on social media platforms. The creator of the meme invests a lot of time and effort to create a meme and it is protected by copyright law. It is one of the facts that the identity of the meme creator is not known so legal proceedings cannot be carried out.

Section 107 of the Copyright Act talks about fair use and mentions certain types of uses´┐Żsuch as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, etc. when there is copyright infringement, in that case, the defence can be used is fair use

Purpose to be fulfilled to find fair use of something:
  1. Purpose to use the meme
  2. The amount of work to be used
  3. Effect on society
  4. Nature of the work which is copyrighted

Till now there is no copyright infringement case that exists when talking about memes. Defence in case of fair use India:
  1. Not competing with the copyright owner
  2. There has been no inappropriate use of the image, picture etc

The memes are created with an intention for any fair dealing that will come under the fair use clause of the Indian Copyright Act. Section 54(1) of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957 talks about fair dealing with any work that can be for personal or private use or for research or for reviewing and criticism.

The difference between sharing a meme and infringing the Intellectual Property Rights of someone is not recognized. The owner's right can be infringed in case the memes are shared without any credit.

Memes are protected by the Doctrine of fair use. In case the meme is used for any commercial and promotional activity permission would be required or a license would be required for the same so that any legal proceeding is avoided. The meme should be for entertainment purposes and it should not result to violate any copyright law. Copyright infringement takes place when there is no proper consent from the owner. For any business, it would result in copyright infringement.

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