Instagram: copyright free-for-all?


Kimberly Almazan and Lauren Bursey

Instagram: copyright free-for-all?

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A New York federal court appears split on how to deal with the copyright law around public Instagram posts. Kimberly Almazan and Lauren Bursey of Withers report.

While most of the world has been stuck in quarantine during the COVID-19 outbreak, there have been a number of key developments regarding copyright infringement in New York regarding the use of images posted to the Facebook-owned social media platform Instagram. 

In April 2020, the US District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) held in Sinclair v Davis that Instagram can sublicense images posted to its platform, and allowed another platform, Mashable, to use such an image in an article against the photographer’s wishes.

Two months later, in June, the same court seemed to depart from Sinclair. In McGucken v Newsweek the court found that Newsweek had not provided sufficient evidence of its sublicence from Instagram, and denied Newsweek’s motion to dismiss a photographer’s copyright infringement suit. 

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