Copyright Owners’ Love/Hate Relationship With TikTok and Instagram Raises Legal Issues
Article By Ann Potter Gleason
The National Law Review
August 28, 2020

While the sirens sounding security concerns about TikTok reach fever pitch, the purveyor of 15-second viral videos desperately seeks to silence a distress signal from another detractor: the music industry. Meanwhile photographers publicizing their work on Instagram battle unlicensed embedding of their images by websites like Mashable and Newsweek. What’s happening? For those whose livelihood depends on copyrighted works, social media sites like TikTok and Instagram present a quandary. These platforms can launch an artist’s work onto the world stage. But they can also facilitate and accelerate the copyright infringement of that same work. Thus a love/hate relationship has arisen between artists and social media platforms. And as with many love/hate relationships, the simmering attendant legal issues promise to be hotly contested and perhaps lead to some developments in copyright law.

TikTok and the Music Industry

TikTok, the multi-billion dollar platform first founded in China in 2012 and launched worldwide in 2018, allows users to create and upload 15 second videoclips ranging from lip syncs to dance routines. Songs used in TikTok videos have taken over the charts. The problem? The majority of TikTok clips include music—much of it unlicensed music. Consequently, the music industry around the world has been trying to negotiate agreements with TikTok and its parent company, Beijing-based Bytedance.

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