When Therapy Goes Public: Copyright Gatekeepers and Sharing Therapeutic Artifacts on Social Media

Amanda Reid, Pablo Miño


This study offers new insights into (1) sharing health-related information on social media, (2) copyright gatekeeper motivations, and (3) the emotional injury for improper takedowns of online content. Through 18 in-depth interviews, we investigate music therapists’ copyright-comfort-zone. In music therapy, using patient-preferred music yields superior therapeutic results: The rub is that patient-preferred music is often copyrighted music. Therapists are comfortable using copyrighted music in private therapy sessions, but copyright concerns arise when recorded artifacts from therapy are shared online. Social media affordances permit sharing of therapeutic artifacts outside the private therapy bubble. Notwithstanding the desire and affordances to share therapeutic artifacts online, our results show that music therapists discourage social media sharing. Music therapists act as copyright gatekeepers not only to avoid legal liability, but also to forestall emotional harm to patients and families should these artifacts be subject to an online takedown notice. Our findings inform a more nuanced framework for understanding copyright’s influence on sharing digital artifacts.


social media, affordances, therapeutic artifact, sharing, health communication, copyright gatekeepers, risk avoidance, online takedown, music therapy, copyright law, COVID-19

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