Site owners may need to get permission from Instagram users before embedding their posts on a web page, according to a company statement.
Newsweek is currently being sued for copyright infringement by a photographer who’s Instagram post was embedded on their site without express permission.
The decisions made in this case could have long lasting implications for site owners when it comes to using media uploaded to Instagram.
Here’s more about the lawsuit, how it compares to a similar case from earlier this year, and the impact it could have for websites in years to come.
Newsweek Sued for Copyright Infringement
Newsweek reached out to a photographer for permission to use one of their photos.
After being turned down, Newsweek instead embedded the photographer’s Instagram post on their site. Now they’re being sued for it.
The publication defends its actions saying permission isn’t required because the photo was embedded from Instagram, rather then being uploaded directly.
Here’s What Instagram Says
It’s written in Instagram’s terms of service that users provide a copyright license to Instagram every time they upload a photo.
However, according to a statement provided to Ars Technica, that license is not extended to sites that display embedded Instagram media.
“While our terms allow us to grant a sub-license, we do not grant one for our embeds API.
Our platform policies require third parties to have the necessary rights from applicable rights holders.
This includes ensuring they have a license to share this content, if a license is required by law.”
This could bad news not just for Newsweek, but anyone who embeds photos from Instagram on their website.
The lawsuit is still in the preliminary stage and Newsweek has tried to get the case dismissed.
A Precedent Set Back in April 2020
A precedent was set in a similar case back in April in which Mashable was being sued by a photographer for embedding an Instagram photo without permission.
Mashable ended up winning the case, as the judge decided the photographer “granted Instagram the right to sublicense the photograph, and Instagram validly exercised that right by granting Mashable a sublicense to display the photograph.”
The judge presiding over Newsweek’s case sees it differently, saying there’s not enough evidence to decide whether Instagram’s terms of service provide a copyright license for embedded photos.
The precedent set in the Mashable case could have been grounds to get the case dismissed, but Instagram’s statement to Ars Technica makes things more complicated.
Instagram is making it difficult for other sites to use Mashable’s argument by stating that its copyright license doesn’t apply to embedded photos.
Newsweek cannot claim it had a sub-license to display embedded media when Instagram explicitly states otherwise.
What Should Site Owners Do?
In order to stay on the safe side, the smartest thing site owners can do is ask for permission before using a photo from Instagram.
A simple direct message would do just fine. If they say no, then leave it at that.
Until a decision is reached in the lawsuit against Newsweek, it’s unclear what rights publishers have when embedding posts from Instagram.
Source: Ars Technica
Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a degree in communications, Matt has an uncanny ability to make the most complex subject matter easy to understand. When he’s not ferociously following and covering the search industry, he’s busy writing SEO-friendly copy that converts.