Instagram update: websites might need permission to embed photos

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Instagram Photo Embed Permission

Sites may need permission before embedding Instagram photos

Copyright Lawsuits, different outcome!

Newsweek is currently being sued for copyright infringement by a photographer, Elliot McGucken. They embed a post from McGucken’s Instagram even though he had declined giving them permission to use it. Newsweek’s counter argument was that they could indirectly from Instagram.

“Instagram’s terms of service require anyone uploading photos to provide a copyright license to Instagram—including the right to sublicense the same rights to other users. Newsweek argued that that license extends to users of Instagram’s embedding technology, like Newsweek.”

Newsweek has reason to be optimistic as their case does bear resemblance to Mashable’s copyright lawsuit back in April, which they won.

According to the judge in the Mashable case, photographer Stephanie Sinclair “granted Instagram the right to sublicense the photograph, and Instagram validly exercised that right by granting Mashable a sublicense to display the photograph.”

For Newsweek and McGucken’s case, Judge Katherine Failla refused to dismiss the case last Monday. She rules that Instagram’s terms of service was not clear enough to decide if they provided a copyright license for embedded photos.

Instagram’s Statement

Instagram issued a statement to Ars Technica last Thursday, suggesting that websites may need to get the creator’s permission before embedding their posts on their site.

In the statement, it says, “Instagram does not provide users of its embedding API a copyright license to display embedded images on other websites”. This would be rather surprising for people who believe that embedding images would protect them from copyright claims.

“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.”

Now with this statement from Instagram, it seems that Newsweek and other sites are unable to use Mashable’s argument of claiming to have a sub-license to display embedded media

Basically, if you want to embed someone’s Instagram post on your site, you would need to ask for the license of the image you want to use from the instagram user. A simple DM would be cool. If they decline, just look for another image. A copyright lawsuit is simply not worth it.


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