In what will be known as the “Mashable case,” a New York judge has ruled that posting on Instagram gives anyone the right to reuse your images.
When it comes to appropriating images found online, the situation is a bit confusing. Just because an image has been shared publicly, does it give you the right to reuse it?
Most would think that this counts as copyright infringement. But a New York judge may have just set a precedent that will impact copyright law forever.
This story began when Stephanie Sinclair, a professional photographer known for exploring gender and human rights issues around the world, uploaded one of her photographs to Instagram. When Mashable contacted her to reuse the image – an image of a mother and child in Guatemala – for a story, Sinclair declined.
Mashable went ahead anyway and used the image by embedding her Instagram post in its article.
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Sinclair, whose work has been featured in The New York Times, Time magazine, and National Geographic, claimed copyright infringement. But U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood ruled in favor of Mashable.
“Here, [Sinclair] granted Instagram the right to sublicense the Photograph, and Instagram validly exercised that right by granting Mashable a sublicense to display the Photograph,” rules Wood.
Wood writes that because Sinclair “uploaded the Photograph to Instagram and designated it as ‘public,’ she agreed to allow Mashable, as Instagram’s sublicensee, to embed the Photograph in its website.”
This will surely cause tremors in the U.S. legal system and copyright infringement cases throughout the world. But don’t say you haven’t been warned. Posting your content publicly on Instagram will allow for anyone to reuse your content by way of embedding on any platform they want.
Here is a copy of the ruling:
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