April 13, 2016 | Maddalena Rinaldi

Ever decided to take a screenshot of someone’s drunken night out on their Snapchat story? Even without being THAT dodgy mate, have you ever wanted a permanent copy of the image your friend snapped round of their new art work, and subsequently screenshotted it to do so? In both of these cases, you could very well be in violation of Australian copyright law.


Since copyright is owned by the person who took the photo (unless it’s in the course of their employment, but that’s a different story), if you decide to take a personal copy, then you’re in violation of basic copyright principles. Further adding to this,in the UK, their culture minister has already stated that it’s illegal to pass a screenshot of a Snapchat on without the owner’s consent. On top of Australia’s laws, this could increase the chances of a legal dispute regardless of content if an Australian court decides to follow suit.


That being said, it is highly unlikely that your best mate will take you to court for that embarrassing snap of him passing out after too many beer bongs due to the high legal costs associated with bringing an action. However, it is something to think about in the aforementioned artwork example if you decide to further post it on social media. In such a case, the copyright owner may not take as kindly to potentially unlimited reproductions of their work without compensation, and you could find yourself at the centre of a lengthy legal drama.


As mentioned before, actions like these haven’t been brought to the forefront of the courts at this point in time, so the ramifications are potentially still unclear. However, to be on the safe side (and especially for the more ‘unscrupulous’ content that Snapchat often holds), it’s probably best to enjoy the service for its intended purpose and have a copy of snaps for as long as the little number in the top right hand corner says you should.


Article written by Jonty Simmons