Copyright Issues When You Re-Blog Someone in Tumblr

By Michael Butler

In most circumstances, you cannot copy and distribute someone else's copyrighted works without prior permission from the copyright holder. However, Tumblr presents a unique issue with its reblog feature, in that it allows you to post anything on another Tumblr blog to your own Tumblr blog. Whether you can reblog something on Tumblr without infringing a copyright depends on the right the original poster has to the work.

In most circumstances, you cannot copy and distribute someone else's copyrighted works without prior permission from the copyright holder. However, Tumblr presents a unique issue with its reblog feature, in that it allows you to post anything on another Tumblr blog to your own Tumblr blog. Whether you can reblog something on Tumblr without infringing a copyright depends on the right the original poster has to the work.

Copyright

Copyright grants an exclusive right to an original work's creator to copy, distribute and make derivative works from the original work. The law literally answers the question "Who has the right to copy this work?" However, the law allows other people to infringe on the exclusive right if the infringement is fair. This is called the "Fair Use Doctrine." Section 107 of Title 17 of the United States Code sets out four factors to determine if the use of a copyrighted work is fair. Of particular importance on Tumblr is the third factor, which looks at the amount of the total work used and the importance of the portion used to the work. Since Tumblr posts tend to be short, they are often only pieces of a larger work. Reblogging a few lines from a movie script is probably fair use. Reblogging the entire script, isn't.

Protect against infringement by registering a copyright. Get Started Now

Original Content

If the original poster on Tumblr is the copyright holder in a work, you can reblog it on Tumblr without infringing copyright. Under Tumblr's terms of service, anyone who posts something on Tumblr grants Tumblr the right to copy and distribute the work and for other Tumblr subscribers to do so as well on the site. Thus, if someone posts a picture that she took, you can reblog it on Tumblr.

Copied Content

If the original poster did not create the work posted, then you must determine whether she had the right to post it to know whether you can safely reblog it. If the original poster infringed copyright, you infringe copyright when you reblog something. You should determine whether the work is copyrighted and whether or not the original post is fair use before reblogging something. If you do reblog something on Tumblr without permission from the copyright holder, the copyright holder has the same legal remedies against you as against the original poster.

Other Issues

When you reblog a copyrighted work on Tumblr, you must reblog it with the same copyright notices as contained in the original post. Tumblr follows the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and will remove copyrighted content at the request of the copyright holder. The copyright holder can also elect to sue you for infringing her copyright. If the copyright holder sues Tumblr, under Tumblr's terms of service you must indemnify Tumblr for any monetary judgments, costs and attorneys' fees.

Protect against infringement by registering a copyright. Get Started Now
How to Add Content to a Blog Without Copyright Infringement

References

Related articles

Song Lyrics & Copyright Laws

Copyright law protects all aspects of an artistic work, as long as the work is original and has been reduced to a tangible medium. Song lyrics, for example, are protected as soon as they are recorded, whether in audio or written form. Although you don’t need to register your song lyrics with the U.S. Copyright Office to enjoy copyright protection, registration makes it easier to prove that you wrote the lyrics before the infringer did and allows you to collect damages without proving economic harm.

About Copyright Laws for Movies

A copyright provides a legal monopoly on an original work of authorship, allowing the copyright holder to sue anyone who uses his work without authorization. Copyright protection applies to any work of art, including movies. Copyright law is governed primarily by the U.S. Copyright Law; with a few exceptions, the law prohibits state governments from legislating in this area. International copyright protection is available under several international treaties.

Sound Recordings & Copyright Law

Section 102 of the U.S. Copyright Act includes sound recordings as a category of “original works of authorship” eligible for copyright protection. Like any other category, a sound recording is protected by copyright from the moment it is “fixed in any tangible means of expression.” Under the 1976 Copyright Act, copyright protection exists regardless of registration of a copyright claim or publication of the work.

Related articles

Can We Post Without Copyright Infringement If a Speaker Gave Us Their Work?

A speech is copyrighted the moment it is written down or recorded with a video camera or audio recording device. ...

The Most Important Limitations of Fair Use Copyright Laws

"Fair use" is a doctrine in copyright law that can be used as a defense to unlicensed use of a copyrighted ...

How to Copyright a Blog on Blogspot

Learning how to copyright a blog is the first step to protecting your words. Duplicating content on the Internet is ...

How to Prevent Others From Infringing on Your Copyright

Copyright is the scheme of legal protection for people who develop original creative works including art, literature, ...

Browse by category