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The Forum

Here we explore topics related to writing and grammar from time to time; and we encourage you to send us your feedback, contributions, and suggestions for topics to explore.


What is the status of copyright in relation to social media sites?

The terms of use on social media sites tend to be fairly complex. And, most people never take the time to read them. Many court decisions have established that online service providers are not liable for their users' infractions of posting copyrighted material without permission. The person who posts the material is liable.

The terms of use on a social media site may give the creator some props, but most host sites claim ownership of the material posted. They have the right to publish your material in their own publication. So, be warned, if you are concerned about losing control of your material, read the terms before you post.

Source: Information taken from Copyright and Permissions: What Every Writer and Editor Should Know,
by Elsa Peterson c. 2012.



Publication Date  

Length of Protection Under the October 1998 Copyright Act  


75 years (all these are now in the public domain)

1923 to 1977  

95 years

1978 or later  

Starts when created; continues through the life of the creator plus 70 years


Send comments and suggestions to Donna M. Marks or call the Editorial Help Desk at 301-517-8139.

Contact the Editorial Help Desk at
Donna_M_Marks@mcpsmd.org or 301-517-8139.