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Answered By Library Staff
Last Updated: Aug 15, 2020     Views: 12

It depends!

A meme can be video, image, or text content. It's not just stuff you find on a meme generator website or in your Facebook feed!

If you are creating the meme, it may be seen as a transformative fair use. Like using all copyrighted content, you will need to weight the four factors of fair use to determine if your use is really fair. 

The idea of transformation really comes down to two big questions: Has the material you took from the original work been transformed by adding new expression or meaning? And was value added to the original work in the form of new insight or meaning? To put it more simply: Have you done something other than republish or repackage the original work? If you’ve added new insight or meaning to an original work, you’re probably in the clear. 

[Public Knowledge]

What may not be fair use, however, is sharing a meme someone else created. First, it depends on how you are sharing. Are you using the share feature on a social media platform like a "reblog" or "share" button, or are you downloading and uploading the meme to your own profile/page/site? The latter would be seen as distributing a copy or making a copy of the content, which would not weigh in favor of fair use.

Linking to a meme (via URL) may be a workaround that is legal if no platform share feature is available.