Renowned nature photographer Paul Nicklen has won a copyright lawsuit against the Sinclair Broadcast Group. He posted a video on his Instagram, which Sinclair embedded on its website along with a screenshot without asking for permission first. Nicklen sued and won the case that could have implications for all photographers and videographers.
Well, this is a shocker. Image sharing platform Instagram has weighed in on the whole embedding thing after a second case has arisen involving post embedding and copyright infringement. Instagram has come forward, telling Ars Technica that it does NOT grant a sublicense to anybody who includes a public Instagram post in a website via its embed feature.
The news seems to not only contradict the assertion of a New York federal judge but also most peoples interpretation of Instagram’s own terms and conditions. But the short version is that you are now required to have permission from the person who posted the image before you embed or share it on your website. Which is a pretty massive shift in attitude, considering the site’s been around for almost a decade and is only now clarifying the issue.
The past few years have made it abundantly clear that platforms hold disproportionate power in the online sphere – from Uber to Grubhub to Amazon. Online success is predicated on building both utility as well as a critical mass of users, and for that, platforms should be congratulated.
However, once we agree to the terms and conditions of the platform, we cede a tremendous amount of power and control while simultaneously becoming the product. And the balance of power is continually re-tipped in favor of the platform with opaque algorithmic changes, continuous monetization of user data, and in many cases, raw exploitation of constituents within the ecosystem.