Memes are fun. Cats, movie stills, all that stuff. It’s fun to send them to friends, or use meme GIFs in message replies. And visual info, like a meme or video, tends to be shared about 40 times more often than straight text.
But, can you use them on your business social media page or in a blog? The short answer is: It Depends. While you should always consult your own attorney when dealing with copyright issues and your business, every use of a meme needs to be judged on its own merits.
So how do you decide if you can use a meme for your business? As a general rule, copyright won’t affect you if you’re using just a small part of an original work. If you’re using an entire still image a photographer took, obviously that’s 100% their work. If the photo feature’s an individual’s face, you may also face repercussions from that person.
However, adding text can be considered “transforming” the work, which could fall under fair use. You may be better off playing it safe though.
In another situation, if you’re using a movie still, which is a split-scond of a two-hour long movie, and one line of text out of the entire script, that’s much less of an issue.