Originally a platform for amateur food photos and kitten videos, Instagram has evolved into a marketing tool used by big brands, photographers, musicians, and other types of creators. At the same time, higher exposure increases the risk of copyright infringement, so understanding copyright laws, and how to protect your content has become extremely important.
Whether you are a business or an individual content creator, copyright notices and claims are valuable tools, and if you post original content on Instagram, you should be aware of how to copyright your photos and videos.
What can be copyrighted?
A copyright protects the creative concept and original works of an author/rightsholder. Usually, when an author creates an original work, they are entitled to copyright protection over it from the moment of creation.
There are several types of works covered by copyright, but here we will concentrate on those more common ones that are used on Instagram:
- Audio works: songs, musical compositions, sound recordings, podcasts;
- Video or audio-visual works: short part of well-known movies, TV shows, broadcast videos, paintings, photographs, etc.;
- Written works: Articles, posts, opinions, advertising texts.
To be eligible for copyright protection, however, a work must be original and created by the author themselves with a certain amount of creativity.
Ownership of the images posted on Instagram
According to Instagram, the ownership of images and content rests with the individual user or corporate account. The terms and conditions however state that individual user or corporate account grants Instagram a “non-exclusive, fully paid, royalty-free, transferable, sublicensable, worldwide license to use their content”. In almost plain language, the rights that an ordinary user (creator) grants to Instagram (use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform, display, translate, and create derivative) allow Instagram to sublicense those rights to a third party without user’s permission and moreover retain earnings without paying anything to the user.
It’s simple for basic understanding: if you take a picture for Instagram, you own it, but authorship matters can get complicated sometimes. But consider the following scenarios when creating content:
- The fact that you’re in a photograph does not mean you own the right to it. Usually, the photographer owns the rights to it;
- A similar picture of the Burj Khalifa – although you can’t stop others from taking a similar picture of the Burj Khalifa, you can prevent others from copying your photos;
- When you work as a photographer for someone else, the ownership of the copyright could pertain to your employer if taking pictures falls under the responsibilities of your employment contract.
A question of paramount importance is how long does a copyright protection last? During the lifetime of the author, plus an additional 70 years. The creative work
becomes in the public domain after a certain period of time, and anyone may use it without a license.
What constitutes an Instagram copyright infringement?
Social media makes it easy to repost or copy others’ creative work (usually without the author’s acknowledgment), so most people do it without thinking of the possible consequences. Here are some examples of infringement on Instagram:
- Playing copyrighted music despite purchasing it;
- Adding copyrighted music to your videos;
- Including a disclaimer that you aren’t trying to infringe their rights when reposting or copying another creator’s work;
- Copying content with no intent to commercialize it;
- Using someone else’s work without original author acknowledgment and expressed permission to do so;
- Posting content from other social media or the internet.
How INTEROCO Copyright Office Dubai can help your business protect its Instagram content?
As a leading IP consultancy in the UAE, we offer our clients the opportunity to protect their corporate and personal Instagram accounts. In this case, we talk about the following elements of protections:
|Instagram profile subdomain||Identifier to link your account address on Instagram – can be registered as Derivative Copyright Work.|
|Avatar (Logo)||Can be registered as a standard copyright work or the author’s design.|
|Instagram social profile design||Here we talk about the general representation of the front page of the account with names of the services, products, designs of icons, etc.|
|Content||The content might include photos, video, texts, and audio materials.|
|Access (password, login)||Corporate information of this type can be protected as a trade secret. By the definition, the trade secret is the form of intellectual property that can be implemented/registered inside the company. So, this type is not applicable to individuals.|
In light of the above, it is evident that a variety of copyright issues can arise when posting images or other content on Instagram. It is possible for an infringement to occur even if the person uploading the infringing content did not intend to do so. It is also suggested that anyone uploading content or pictures on the platform should be aware of whether he/she is the creator, owner, or if he/she has the right to use the content, or whether it is permitted under a copyright exception, or is copyrighted.
A copyrighted content owner or an authorized agent can only report an infringement. It is necessary that a user informs another user about any infringement of their content.
INTEROCO Copyright Office (Dubai) offers an in-depth understanding of copyright principles as well as practical strategies and tools you can customize to fit the needs of your organization.