Court rules again: Embedding an Instagram photo isn’t copyright infringement
Two photographers have lost a copyright case against Instagram. The court recently ruled that embedding photos on third-party websites is not a copyright infringement. This might have implications for all photographers out there, and it’s also not the first time that a photographer lost to Meta in a similar case.
Photographers Alexis Hunley and Matthew Brauer accused Instagram of “violating copyright laws by enabling Time and BuzzFeed News to embed their copyrighted photos in online articles,” The Verge notes. In 2016, Time published an article titled “These Photographers Are Covering the Presidential Campaign on Instagram,” and embedded Brauer’s Instagram photo of Hillary Clinton. In its 2020 article about the Black Lives Matter protests, BuzzFeed News embedded a photo taken by Hunley.
In their lawsuit, the photographers claim that “Instagram facilitated copyright infringement by letting Time and BuzzFeed News embed their photos on third-party sites.”
Unfortunately for the photographers, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit delivered its verdict this Monday and sided with Instagram. According to the court, the platform was not liable for copyright infringement as “embedding a photo does not ‘display a copy’ of the underlying images.”
The court relied on the 2007 Perfect 10 v. Amazon case, which set the precedent of the “server test.” This principle claims that a website can’t be held responsible for infringement if it doesn’t store copyrighted material on its server.
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.