With all the different social media outlets and advertising opportunities regramming, reposting and sharing present, the digital age has heralded new challenges, resulting in people treating the Internet as some kind of ‘free for all’. So, if everyone is doing it, does that make it ok? This article looks at photographer’s rights on Instagram.

Who Owns Your Instagram Photos?

If you took the photo, then under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), you are the copyright owner and have exclusive rights to copy, distribute or post your original work online in any way you wish.

However, the copyright laws have been slightly moulded to fit with the capabilities and accessibility in the digital sphere. As a result, your rights as copyright owner are not so exclusive. By agreeing to Instagram’s Terms of Use, you grant Instagram a non-exclusive license to use anything you post. This means that you still own the content you post, but Instagram also has the same rights to exploit it.

Can Other Users Regram Your Photos?

Instagram users must not post copyrighted content to Instagram. This means that if anyone regrams your photo without your permission, they may be in breach of the Copyright Act.

Are you sure it is your photo? Just because you appear in a photo, does not necessarily mean that you own it. So before you start claiming that someone is using your photos, make sure they are actually your photos.

Correctly attributing a photo to the original source may avoid copyright infringement. This can even be a good thing for you, as the owner, by increasing your followers and may even make you InstaFamous. The same can be said for reposts or regrams, which may also be permitted. However, if someone is using your photos without your permission, and especially if they are using it for commercial purposes, this is most certainly copyright infringement.

Protecting Your Photos

  1. Be proactive! If you’re nervous about others using your photos, be practical in protecting your work. Using watermarks, digital marks of the ‘©’ symbol, attached with your name, are effective ways to let others know that you own the photo. If you’re really creative, you may even want to add writing over your photo that is invisible until copied.
  2. If you catch someone using your work without permission, try contacting them first before taking action. They might be a reasonable person and take down or remove the photo.
  3. If that doesn’t work, Instagram provides an online form for reporting the copyright infringement directly to them.
  4. Still in doubt? Seek legal advice. LegalVision can help you with your copyright infringement claim.

Key Takeaways

  • Know your rights – read the terms and conditions of Instagram or any other online platform where you post your material, and understand your rights. Remember, just because you’re in the photo, does not mean you own it.
  • Think about the regram benefits – before you start claiming someone has infringed your copyright, consider the benefits #instafamous
  • Think before you act – the best solution may just be to contact the person using your photos. Don’t go too far before you’ve tried the easiest option.

If you have any questions about Instagram copyright or photographer’s rights, get in touch with our intellectual property lawyers.

Alexandra Shaw
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