Can memes violate copyright?

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In modern times, memes are quite popular among all circles, but what do memes actually mean? A meme is an idea, behavior, or style that is passed from one person to another in a culture, usually as an image. Memes are used to share experiences, express thoughts and to create entertainment using text, images and videos. But have you ever thought that creating or distributing memes could be subject to copyright infringement?

Until now, there are no direct rules about memes. However, if we look at Law number 28 of 2014 concerning copyright, article 1 paragraph 3, which reads “A creation is any copyrighted work in the fields of science, art and literature that is produced based on inspiration, ability, thought, imagination, dexterity, skill , or expertise that is expressed in a tangible form. ” It can be concluded that memes fall under copyright protection.


In making a meme we usually use “creations” in the form of images or videos from films, art or photos of famous people. The question is “Does creating memes that use someone else’s work or photos infringe on copyright?” Article 4 of the UUHC states that copyright is an exclusive right consisting of moral rights and economic rights.

Moral rights are rights that are eternally attached to the creator to:

a. continue to include or not include his name on the copy in connection with the use of his Work for the public;

b. using his alias or pseudonym;

c. change his work in accordance with the appropriateness of society;

d. change the title and sub-title of the Work; and

e. defend their rights in the event of any distortion of the work, mutilation of the work, modification of the work, or anything that is detrimental to one’s honor or reputation


Creators or Copyright Holders as referred to in Article 8 have economic rights to:

a. publishing of works;

b. Reproduction of works in all their forms;

c. translation of Works;

d. adapting, arranging, or transforming the work;

e. Distribution of Works or copies thereof;

f. performance of Creation;

g. Announcement of Works;

h. Communication of Creation; and

i. leasing a work.

Please note that the above moral and economic rights are protected by copyright indefinitely.

The conclusion is that the activity of making or distributing memes commercially can be subject to copyright infringement if without permission from the creator or the creator feels aggrieved by the meme, so that the creator has the right to request removal of the meme. However, because memes usually do not have economic importance and are distributed only for entertainment, many creators do not care about it so that meme makers are not penalized, not even a few creators who appreciate these memes. Saving a meme images is okay because it doesn’t violate the law.




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