Class-action lawsuit targets Instagram’s photo embed tool

Instagram’s embed tool was the target of a recent group litigation suit, filed in a San Francisco federal court. The lawsuit, which consists of multiple parties as claimants, alleges that the social media application, alongside its parent company Facebook, has enabled copyright infringement by encouraging online publications to embed links of Instagram posts in online articles.  

The complaint states that Instagram’s embed tool has enabled publishers and users to display copyrighted images without obtaining permission from the artist or paying a licencing fee. The filing added that the publishers who have direct embeds were not as entitled to them as they may have been led to believe. Furthermore, Instagram admitted that they did not possess a sublicensing agreement with any publisher, as discovered in the case of McGucken v Newsweek, where a photographer alleged that the publication had used his photo through an Instagram embed, without consent.

With the support of the above evidence, the class-action suit argues that Instagram deliberately left online publishers confused about whether they had or had not entered into a sublicensing agreement. This enabled the social media platform to avoid liability for copyright claims by acting as a “neutral’ service provider, yet still enjoy the benefits of driven traffic from the embedded links, resulting in advertising revenue. Be sure to stay tuned for any further updates on this matter on our reading room.

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