Be cautious with what you post on Instagram

A professional photographer named Stephanie Sinclair has lost her infringement claim in the New York District Court. The digital media platform Mashable, published an article which embedded a photo, that Stephanie had uploaded to her Instagram account. Stephanie filed a copyright infringement claim in the New York Court but the case has now been dismissed with prejudice.

The Southern District of New York Judge, Kimba Wood ruled that Stephanie had no claim due to Instagram’s terms of service. When Stephanie publicly uploaded her photo, she had offered a valid sublicence which she may have been unaware of. Instagram’s terms of service reserve a ‘fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sublicense’. This means that Instagram can sublicence its public content to other users who share it, royalty-free. When an image is posted, Instagram then offers an option to embed the image, which in turn grants the sublicense.

Stephanie said that Instagram’s dominance with posting images online leads to an unfair decision when it comes to posting images. Use Instagram and your work will certainly be out there for the world to see, but you will be giving away your work for free to other users.  Judge Wood dismissed the arguments stating that although Instagram’s dominance is an issue for photographers, the court cannot release Stephanie from her agreement with Instagram. Stephanie made a choice when she posted the image.

This highlights the importance of reading the terms and conditions when posting your work on social media platforms. It is vital that you protect your intellectual property. If you have any questions relating to your intellectual property, maybe a question regarding whether you should or should not post a picture to certain platforms, then please contact the Lawdit team.

By Samuel Killoran who is a Law Student at Solent University

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