This article on “Copyright Protection of Memes for Meme Creators” is written by an Intern at Legal Upanishad.
With the help of this article, the author aims to focus on the protection provided to the meme creators. The author wants to put light on the most controversial modern legal issue with respect to copyright protection of memes and is willing to provide the possible legal solutions in the realm of the same. The evolution of internet brings revolutionary change in the lifestyle of society. The impact of the entire modern socio–political climate is also being affected by this internet revolution.
The most popular and creative way of sharing thoughts, opinion which attracts the large group of the society is meme. One of the best things about these memes is they are very sarcastic in approach and most of the time it didn’t offend anyone. Memes can also be described as modern days shorter satire. Memes become most important part of individual life. The creative minds behind memes are useful in making the boring things interesting to many.
The purpose of this article is to provide the scope of protection to memes under the provisions of the Copyright Act, 1957 by understanding the impact of law on different categories of memes, the protection to creators, and by highlighting the exceptions by comparing the position of India with the world at large. The article is being written to understand the scope of copyright laws and the need to save intellectual property rights.
Categories of Memes:-
Internet helped in improving the connectivity and accessibility of modern ways of learning. With the evolution of the internet and its software development, social media platforms have become the most popular and attractive amongst youths. These platforms have become the most common tool for modern day society to express their emotions. It also provides a safe space to people of almost all the age group to react to the happenings around them. This social media platform provides a lot of opportunities to people across the globe.
Besides connecting each other social media is very helpful in opening the doors to new opportunities such as digital creation. The purpose of meme is to utilize the creative minds by making things in a lighter and comic way. But the approach of making memes is different. Therefore, on the basis of the creation of memes it can be fall in two major categories.
- The very first category is where the meme creator, the one who creates a meme, uses the content that is not created by it. It can be any video from any movie or the speech of any politician. In general, meme creators don’t have any creation in this type of content apart from the comic sense in which that particular meme is used for.
- On the other hand, where the meme creator uses his/her own creation or ideas, pictures and all the rights belong to that creator. So re-sharing of those memes must have the approval of the creators.
Importance of copyright protection of memes on internet:-
Digital creation includes the idea of an individual by which they express their opinion or share their modes of work through social media platforms. Digital creation includes influencing, blogging, digital marketing, digital content writing, meme making, etc. It is very important to provide copyright protection for memes as it gives an exclusive right to the creator for their creative works.
If the meme is independently created, it is very important for it to be provide the scope of copyright in a manner such that the original creator will be eligible to enjoy all the monetary rights as well as rights to reproduce, create, and have royalty from it. As memes are considered a mode of amusement, it is very much important to save the artistic brain behind the creation of natural memes to come under the protection of copyright.
Analysis with respect to the Copyright Act 1957:-
The legitimate defense available in case of copyright infringement is the doctrine of ‘fair use’. To understand this concept lets understand the provision of this doctrine under the copyright act of 1957.
- The purpose and/or use of the copied work is of a commercial nature.
- nature of the copyrighted work.
- The amount and substantiality of the copyrighted work used.
- effect on the potential market.
In general memes are only used to recreate and amusement. But with rapid growth of Industry and digital creations now a days memes are created for the commercial and political purpose also. Which is defeating the fair use and is a big hurdle in the way of memes to be categorised under the following category.
Comparison of India with world:-
India with regards to meme didn’t see any legal angle till date. However, with rapid increase of social media usage we may see certain type of copyright violation case in the near future. Even the position of USA is also same in this regard. The binding precedent in the above-mentioned cases are same and set that if the condition fulfilled in doctrine of fair use is settled by all the memes. There is no question of copyright infringement.
Memes and Public Policy:-
The three major parties involve in the creation of memes and which may impact the copyright protection of memes are: –
- social media platform.
- Audience of Meme (Consumer of memes)
- Memer (memes creator)
With the availability of different social media platforms comes the different terms and conditions of each platform. any policy made should accommodate all parties properly. The memes should be created in light of keeping the interests of the audience in mind. The need for restrictions on kinds of memes are also need of time. Meme creators must owe social responsibility towards the content they created. The copyright protection of memes will help to resolve this issue. This protection will also be helpful in creating the proper platform for new creators.
Memes the most important part of modern youth’s lives. The tool of humor is in need of protection. It has to go and pass the litmus test of law to get protection under the copyright regime, but it will definitely be helpful if it passes all the legal tests. Since then, memes have taken commercial and political angles and are impacting serious issues in society. It is again very important to have proper distinction between types of memes and providing copyright protection of memes will help the original creator to gain the royalty.
Digital creation is the new normal and protection of all laws should be granted to beneficiaries so that it will help in creating and accepting policies with change. Whether there is fair use of memes or not, if someone is getting revenue from it, then some part must be given to the original creator. There is a need to create an actual ratio between creativity and originality. The author concludes by stating the fact that copyright protection of memes must be provided but policy needs to be drafted in keeping modern day challenges in mind.