📸 Be careful with that Instagram embed if you don’t want to get sued

When you read articles on the internet you probably notice that publishers -- ranging from blogs to national news agencies -- embed Instagrams and Tweets to help tell stories. The practice has been considered legal since the early days of social media. 

But times are a changin. Courts are pushing back against the embed, according to The Intellectual Property Strategist.

  • The “server” rule had been precedent: In 2007, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals essentially ruled that a website could display a copyrighted work from elsewhere, as long as the work was not stored on the website’s server. Because Instagrams and Tweets are stored on the servers of their respective websites and users agree to contractual terms, it was assumed any other website could publish an embed.

  • District courts aren’t following the server rule anymore: Cases that would have been thrown out earlier have been allowed to proceed, and no special discretion has been awarded to publishers. The reason? For one thing, the courts have noted that parties can still be found in violation of the Copyright Act if they don’t actually possess an image. 

Instagram is trending toward more protections of users’ content   

Its most recent user agreement states that anyone who wishes to embed a photo must secure rights to publish from the user.

The Verdict

The earlier precedent hasn’t been changed completely because only district courts have been making new decisions. This area of copyright law will likely take a few years to settle.