Marketing 2 min read

Sites may Need Permission to Embed Instagram Photos

Antonio Salaverry /

Antonio Salaverry /

A photographer is currently suing Newsweek for embedding his Instagram photo without permission.

It began when Newsweek reached out to a photographer for permission to use one of his images. When the creator refused the request, the publication embedded the Instagram post on its site instead of a direct upload.

Now, the photographer is suing the news site for copyright infringement. Meanwhile, Newsweek points out that it doesn’t need the creator’s permission to embed the photo from Instagram.

A similar case occurred back in April 2020 between Mashable and another photographer.

At the time, a photographer sued Mashable for embedding an Instagram photo without permission. However, Mashable ended up winning that case.

According to the then presiding judge, 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.”

However, that precedent does not apply in the Newsweek case.

For one, the judge says that there’s not enough evidence to decide whether Instagram’s term of service provides a copyright license for embedded photos. Also, Instagram’s statement to Ars Technica complicates things further.

What Instagram Says About Permission to Embed Photos

Instagram’s terms of service state that users provide a copyright license to the platform when they upload a photo. However, a statement provided to Ars Technica suggests that the license doesn’t cover sites that display embedded Instagram media.

The statement reads:

“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.”

As you may have guessed, this is terrible news for any site owner that embeds Instagram photos on their website. What’s more, the decision from the Newsweek case can have a lasting implication for many sites.

At the moment, it’s still unclear whether publishers have any right to embed posts from Instagram. However, to remain on the safe side, you may want to start asking for permission before using any media from the platform.

Read More: Google is Changing How Some Copyright Claims Work on YouTube

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