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Copyright guide

This is a companion guide to the RMIT Copyright webpages for staff and students.

Copyright and social media

Observing copyright, that is knowing what material you can use and how to use it correctly, is an important aspect of academic integrity- that includes posting to social media platforms. 

Understanding how copyright applies will save you time, and embarrassment and help you avoid potentially more serious consequences during your studies at RMIT and beyond.

Do I need permission to post to social media? 

In most cases, you as a student, are the copyright owner of any original work you create in a course of study at RMIT including your thesis (RMIT IP policy), but you need to be aware that the provisions in Fair dealing for the purpose of Research and Study (Australian Copyright Act 1968) do NOT extend to posting other's copyright protected work to public sites including social media. It is your responsibility to make sure you do not post copyright material that you do not have the right to do so. You must ask the copyright holder for permission or be licensed to use the material before posting others’ work on social media. Keep a record of any consent or licences you obtain.

For tips on when you need to seek permission and a sample permission letter see the HDR students section in the Copyright guide.

More copyright advice is available on what you need to know about copyright as a student, including social media. For example, if an instructor wishes to reuse a photograph you took and posted to social media, they must get consent from you.

Understand social media platform Terms of Use 

It is also important to understand the Terms of Use of any social media platforms you sign up to use. For most social media sites, you retain copyright in any original works you post to the site, but you need to be aware of what rights you are licensing to social media platforms for the use of your work. You also need to be aware of what activities social media platforms allow or prohibit such as embedding and sharing posts.


The Copyright Service can respond to queries of concern about copyright, email:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Engaging on social media

Can I share someone else's copyrighted material, originally shared on a social media platform, if I am using the same platform?

Yes, if the social media platform allows sharing of the content within the same platform. A user usually must agree to the terms and conditions of the platform before they upload material, and this usually includes agreeing to the sharing functionality of content within the platform.

Can someone else's copyrighted material that they originally shared on a social media platform be shared to another platform using an automated 'share' function?

Yes, but only if the social media platform allows sharing of the content to another platform. A user usually must agree to the terms and conditions of the platform before they upload material and this usually includes agreeing to the sharing functionality.

Can I share someone else's copyrighted material that they originally posted on a social media platform to another platform using copy-and-paste methods?

No. Copy and paste tools are not offered by the platform but are instead tools a user controls via their computer, therefore sitting outside the sharing functionality offered by the platform. If the social media platform does not mention or offer specifically that 'cut/copy and paste' methods are allowable then this activity is likely to raise copyright issues.

Posting on social media

Can I copy a picture of an artwork and post it to social media without permission?

Yes, if the picture in the public domain or out of copyright. Alternately, if your activity meets the requirements of a fair dealing exception, this could allow the use of the picture, or the use of an express licence attached to the picture (for example, a Creative Commons licence). Beyond the conditions specified in one of these licences you would need to contact the copyright owner for further permission.

Where can I find images I can safely share?

Images that are out of copyright or come with an attached Creative Commons license from an authorised source can be presumed to be safe to share. Examples of authorised sources of images that may be out of copyright or come with a Creative Commons licenses are:

How can I best provide attribution on images licensed under Creative Commons?

Attributing the creator is required if using a Creative Commons licence, and is also a requirement under Australian copyright law. It is also expected that you provide any relevant copyright information you possess on the image in question.

More information: How to attribute Creative Commons licensed materials.

Use the RMIT Open Attribution Builder to create an attribution for your image.

Can I share quotes from copyrighted works?

Yes, you can quote a few lines or paragraphs of text from a book or journal article provided you are not using a 'substantial' part of the work or the use comes under an exception under the Copyright Act such as fair dealing.
Whilst many short phrases do fall into this category, each separate phrase must ultimately be considered on its own merits.
For more information on using portions of text or extracts and fair dealing exceptions refer to these fact sheets available from the Australian Copyright Council:

How do I check that the link I am posting meets copyright requirements? (e.g. video, text, images, etc.)

You must ensure that you are linking to the 'authorized' or legitimate material, i.e. the material which has been placed online by the copyright owner.
Less risky sources of material to link to or embed include:

  • material from an official source such as a publisher, record company, movie distributor or business that produced the material
  • material from the official sites of magazines and newspapers
  • uploaded music and video on the official artist, record, or film company pages on Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, and other social media platforms

Using social media posts in other contexts

Can I embed a social media post into my online article without permission? (e.g. a tweet?)

Yes if the social media post is hosted on an authorised site, contains copyright permitted material AND the social media platform allows the embedding of the post in another platform. Embedding should be avoided unless the platform hosting the material specifically permits this.

Can I embed a feed of social media posts in my website (e.g. via an API)?

No, unless the Social Media platform allows the ability to embed the feed through the normal operation of the site either by specific mention in the terms and conditions of use or via an interactive icon.

Copyright La Trobe University. Adapted with permission from La Trobe University.  No further reproduction is permitted without the written permission of La Trobe University.