Whether it’s your first post, or your thousandth, it’s important that you understand what copyright issues Instagram attracts.

What do you need to know before uploading a photo? Are you infringing someone’s copyright when you post or share another’s Instagram images? Instagram is a community of more than 300 million users who capture and share the world’s moments. Below, we briefly set out what possible issues can arise and how to avoid copyright infringement on Instagram.

Firstly, What is Copyright?

Copyright is a form of Intellectual Property and is an automatic right in Australia. If you have copyright in a piece of creative work, for example, a photograph or graphic design, then you can publish, reproduce or communicate the work to the public.

Who Owns Copyright?

If you create, design or write an original piece of literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, then you automatically have copyright in that work. If you are the creator of a piece of literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, then you can publish, reproduce or communicate that work to the public.

How Can Copyright be Infringed?

In short, copyright can be infringed if you publish, reproduce or communicate an original work to the public and you are not the author of the work. So, how does this apply to Instagram? 

What’s the Difference Between Posting, Copying, and Sharing?

Instagram allows users to curate and share beautiful images of striking landscapes, on-trend outfits or surprise moments. A user can either post their photo or if you like another Instagrammer’s image, you can share theirs with your followers.  What are the copyright issues involved in posting, compared with sharing an Instagrammer’s image?

Posting

If you post a photo on Instagram, make sure that it’s your own to avoid infringing a person’s copyright. People have been caught out by this before with Spanish Vogue even posting an image that Spanish Photographer, Sion Fullana, took and posted on Instagram. Spanish Vogue copied the image and as such, infringed Fullana’s copyright as they published the image without the copyright owner’s permission. If you want to use a person’s Instagram image, the best practice is to request that person’s permission prior to posting.

Sharing: 

Do you infringe a person’s copyright when you ‘share’ an Instagram image? The main issue to consider here is whether you are presenting the shared image as your own. When sharing an image, you should credit the original creator of the work. Sharing is Instagram’s equivalent of telling your friends, “hey, check out this amazing picture I found, taken by this amazing photographer I discovered!’

Key Takeaways

When posting images on Instagram, take care to avoid accidentally infringing a person’s copyright. Sharing an image on Instagram is acceptable because you don’t present a picture as your own. Finally, if you’re unsure who owns an image – don’t use it!

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Questions about using Instagram to promote your business or how to stop copyright infringement on Instagram? Let our advertising lawyers know on 1300 544 755.

Chloe Sevil

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