Copyright and GIFs

In this morning’s lecture, David talked a lot about the safe, responsible and ethical use of ICT,  in terms of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.In particular David discussed how we could possibly, unknowingly, violate copyright laws, and he touched upon the subject again in this blog post. Shortly after this my fellow student Chloe posted a question on our course forum regarding the use of GIFs and possible copyright infringements. As a fan of memes I thought this was interesting, so I had a google…

This article from Lifehacker broaches this very subject, and says that although no one has ever been sued for making, propagating, or sharing GIFs it would be a mistake to treat GIFs as being different to other digital video formats. According to the author, in the USA they have a thing called the”Fair Use doctrine” which  allows for the “copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and “transformative” purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work” – but we don’t have that in Australia…

In terms of sharing GIFs, the article goes on to say it is apparently a copyright infringement to share a link to a GIF from a film that is hosted on a third party network, no matter how distant – and this includes sharing via private email with a friend.

This article on Indietech dated December 2014 goes into more detail about copyright law, fair use, and creative commons, stating that simply attributing the image to wherever you found it is not enough – written permission from the artist themselves is essential.

So, what do we do? Do you do exhaust all avenues in tracking down the artists and copyright owners of every single meme and GIF before reposting? Do you seriously have the time for that?


About jacquelinehowlett

I live in Townsville, I crochet, go to yoga and pilates, walk, study, and drink craft beers. Me in a nutshell.
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10 Responses to Copyright and GIFs

  1. David Jones says:

    The question about whether linking to a resource is copyright infringement is a gray area. The Uni Syd copyright guide says it is not. Might depend on the status of what you’re linking to – in this case a GIF from a movie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi David, it is such a confusing area when you start to think about it. (Except for this blog) I usually reference all images I borrow and use in assignments or whatever, APA style, and always thought that was probably enough – as long as whoever viewed it could trace it back to at least where I got it from then I was covered, but it seems not…


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  3. Pingback: All Rights Reserved | Exploring My Way Through ICT

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  5. This is my most exciting blog post to date! One comment AND two pingbacks! Yippee! Now to find out what a “pingback” is…


  6. Pingback: Have I really broken Copyright Laws? | Belinda Cox

  7. Thank you so much for this wonderfully written blog. It has certainly opened my eyes even wider to what David shared with us in the lecture. I was completely unaware of my actions and now thanks to you and your links I have been able to delve deeper into my understandings of copyright. Thank you for sharing!


    • Hi Ashley, thank you very much for your kind comment. I too was unaware of the potential legal ramifications of using GIFs, memes, etc and it was certainly a shock to the system. The whole thing seems to be very complicated and opaque, I guess we need to make sure we reference absolutely everything we didn’t create ourselves.


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