Copyright infringement on Facebook occurs when your original material is used without your consent. Infringement can be as simple as uploading a video that includes footage from your work or posting a photo that you have taken. However, even if these infringements seem small, Facebook activity is not a loophole for avoiding copyright infringement. This article explains what copyright infringement is and the steps to consider when you encounter it on Facebook.

Which Material is Protected?

In Australia, copyright is an automatic protection. This means that you do not have to apply for protection for your work, it occurs as soon as your work takes a physical form. It protects:

  • music;
  • art;
  • literature;
  • dramatic works;
  • films;
  • broadcasts, and
  • sound recordings.

However, it does not protect mere ideas or concepts.

For example, J.K. Rowling had no claim to the idea of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ until she penned the first chapters. Once the story was written down, the work gained copyright protection.

What is Considered Infringement?

You have exclusive rights over your material. These rights allow you to reproduce your work or communicate it to the public (such as by posting it on Facebook). Where someone else uses a substantial part of the work without your authorisation, they are infringing on your rights.

One of the most prolific examples of copyright infringement on Facebook is the re-posting and re-uploading of videos without permission. Sometimes, the violation is obvious. However, original videos are sometimes collated into ‘compilations’ and may be harder to detect.

Is All Unauthorised Use Infringement?

To infringe copyright, the infringer must use a substantial part of your work. A substantial part is a vital or important part of the material. It need not be a whole chapter or an entire video, but rather, a key aspect of the material. It must be central to the work’s originality and recognisable as the original work.

In addition, there are exceptions to copyright infringement. Copyright material can be used without your consent for:

  • research or study;
  • criticism or review;
  • parody or satire; and
  • reporting the news.

In addition to satisfying one of the purposes listed above, the use of the copyright material must be ‘fair’. This is determined on a case-by-case basis.

While the extent of this exception can be complicated, an example of fair use might be reposting an article to critique the work.

However, simply reposting the article to attract others to critique it is unlikely to be deemed as ‘fair’.

How to Deal With Infringement

The best way to approach infringement will depend on a number of factors. These include the nature of the infringement and who has infringed your work. It may be necessary to combine the strategies below to get the best result.

1. Contact the Infringing Party

If you want the material taken down, try and reach out to the infringing party. Sometimes, all that is needed is a demonstration of your ownership of the work and a request to have it removed.

It’s a good idea to take a screenshot of the infringement and bookmark the page in case the other party denies the allegation. Sometimes, approaching these situations amicably but firmly can lead to a speedy resolution.

2. Facebook’s Dispute Resolution Process

Facebook has an online form that you can use to submit a claim of copyright infringement. You will need to have the following information:

  • your own details;
  • a description of the copyrighted work;
  • a description of the infringing content or post; and
  • information about the location of the material (such as a URL).

After you have submitted the form online, Facebook may send a response requesting more information. If they remove the content as a result of your report, the other party will receive your contact information. This means that the person who posted the material may reach out to you if they think Facebook should not have removed it.

3. Cease and Desist Letter

A cease and desist letter is a formal letter that shows the infringing party that you are taking the matter seriously. If the infringement is particularly serious or the infringer has profited off your work, you may want a lawyer to draft the letter.

A cease and desist letter does not begin legal proceedings. Rather, it attempts to resolve the dispute without court action. It asserts the gravity of the situation and your legal position as the copyright holder. However, it may also lead to further negotiations or the commencement of legal proceedings. Either way, a properly drafted cease and desist letter will give you a greater chance of a successful outcome.

4. Going to Court

Going to court may be necessary if negotiations fall through and a cease and desist letter is ineffective. Before going to court, it’s important to think seriously about what you want. Legal proceedings are expensive and, in some cases, the cost of pursuing a claim may outweigh the benefits of a successful claim.

The outcomes available to you as a result of copyright infringement include a:

  • court order for the infringer to remove your material (this is known as an injunction);
  • payout of compensation (this is known as damages); or
  • payout of any profits that the other party earned from infringing your copyright.

In most cases, damages are difficult to prove because it can be hard to establish how much money you lost as a result of the infringement. On the other hand, a payout of profits allows you to claim the profits that the defendant gained from the infringement. This may be appropriate in instances where the re-poster gained income as a result of the material ‘going viral’ and amassing millions of views.

Key Takeaways

Copyright infringement on Facebook occurs when someone uses your protected material without your consent. Identifying copyright infringement in the digital age can be complex.

However, combining Facebook’s dispute resolution process with a cease and desist letter can be an effective way to resolve the issue at hand. If you need assistance with copyright infringement, contact LegalVision’s IP lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

COVID-19 Business Survey
LegalVision is conducting a survey on the impact of COVID-19 for businesses across Australia. The survey takes 2 minutes to complete and all responses are anonymous. We would appreciate your input. Take the survey now.

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a tech-driven, full-service commercial law firm that uses technology to deliver a faster, better quality and more cost-effective client experience.

The majority of our clients are LVConnect members. By becoming a member, you can stay ahead of legal issues while staying on top of costs. For just $199 per month, membership unlocks unlimited lawyer consultations, faster turnaround times, free legal templates and members-only discounts.

Learn more about LVConnect

Sam Burrett
Need Legal Help? Get a Free Fixed-Fee Quote

If you would like to receive a free fixed-fee quote or get in touch with our team, fill out the form below.

  • By submitting this form, you agree to receive emails from LegalVision and can unsubscribe at any time. See our full Privacy Policy.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Our Awards
  • 2019 Top 25 Startups - LinkedIn 2019 Top 25 Startups - LinkedIn
  • 2019 NewLaw Firm of the Year - Australian Law Awards 2019 NewLaw Firm of the Year - Australian Law Awards
  • 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards
  • Most Innovative Law Firm - 2019 Australasian Lawyer 2019 Most Innovative Firm - Australasian Lawyer
Privacy Policy Snapshot

We collect and store information about you. Let us explain why we do this.

What information do you collect?

We collect a range of data about you, including your contact details, legal issues and data on how you use our website.

How do you collect information?

We collect information over the phone, by email and through our website.

What do you do with this information?

We store and use your information to deliver you better legal services. This mostly involves communicating with you, marketing to you and occasionally sharing your information with our partners.

How do I contact you?

You can always see what data you’ve stored with us.

Questions, comments or complaints? Reach out on 1300 544 755 or email us at

View Privacy Policy