Photography and video-based social media applications continue to saturate our lives; everyone is a content creator. The courts are regularly asked to determine when third-party display of copyright protected content online constitutes an infringement of an author’s copyright. Invariably, courts reach divergent answers to that question under different facts and circumstances. These disparate results have created confusion among social media creators and users.

The Copyright Act of 1976 enumerates the “exclusive rights” of copyright holders, including the right to “display” a work, meaning to “show a copy of it, either directly or by means of a film, slide, television image, or any other device or process.”