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Who Owns the Copyright in an Interview or Social Media Post?

We live in a world where a “tap” or a “click” can make a big impact. Social media and technology have made it possible for you to show intimate details of your life to millions of people. Images of “#wokeuptoday”, #FOTD or food of the day, mommy goals, where you are spending your vacation and other trending content are shared on social media feeds.

But before you tap that post button, are you aware that you grant many of these social media platforms a non-exclusive, fully paid, royalty-free, worldwide and transferable license to use your images?

Interviews posted online also raise an interesting question as to how intellectual property is treated.

In terms of the content created through an interview, does the interviewer or the interviewee own the intellectual property rights in the content?

About Copyright

Copyright deals with the rights the author or creator has over literary, artistic and other copyright works. This right protects the expression of a work, for example, in books, music, paintings, sculpture, computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps, and technical drawings.

As a general rule, the first person who created the work typically owns the copyright in a work and is considered the copyright owner.

There are, however, some exceptions. According to the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), these include:

  • Section 35(5) deals with commissioned works where a person who commissioned the work will own the copyright work for the taking of a photograph for private or domestic purposes, the painting or drawing of a portrait or the making of an engraving by the other person where the work is made in pursuance of an agreement;
  • Section 35(6) states that where an employee creates a work during employment, the copyright ownership is passed on to the employer;

Also, where a work is brought forth under the authority of a government or state agency, the copyright ownership belongs to the agency or entity.

Copyright in Interviews

In interviews, there are certain items to consider before the ownership of the copyright will be determined. The ownership of the copyright will address items such as who created the questions, whether the interview was recorded or filmed, and who created an expression of the work.

Whoever was responsible for expressing the interview into something tangible (writing or film) is considered the owner. The interviewee has no copyright over the given answers because these are ideas and not an “expression”.

Social Media

Similarly, as to social media, typically, the poster retains ownership of the content if he or she was the creator or author of the original expression but gives the social media platform a licence to use the content.

When you click “I agree” button you agree to the terms of service of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and this will govern the terms as to how your intellectual property is treated by the platform.

Take away points:

  • Generally, the copyright of a work belongs to the person who created it, except when it was created through commissioned work, while being employed, under the control of a government agency or entity.
  • An idea cannot be subject of a copyright until this becomes an expression of the idea itself—for example, written, filmed, or photographed.
  • The ownership of the copyright in interviews who created the original expression of the exercise into a tangible expression, or otherwise, governed by the terms of a written agreement between the interviewer and the interviewee.
  • You retain ownership over the content you post in Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
  • By clicking the “I agree” button in the social media application, you are in fact agreeing that the platform can use your content according to the platform terms and without payment to you.


Jaclyn-Mae Floro, BCompSc

Contact W3IP Law on 1300 776 614 or 0451 951 528 for more information about any of our services or get in touch at
Disclaimer. The material in this post represents general information only and should not be taken to be legal advice.

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