Instagram is about to change things for websites entirely, very soon websites will need to ask for proper permission from photographers or users before they embed their pictures or posts on their websites. This means that the poster has to provide a separate license to the images in the Instagram post before you embed their post on your website or face being subjected to a copyright lawsuit if you don’t.
The company told Ars Technica that “While our terms allow us to grant a sub-license, we do not grant one for our embeds API, our platform policies require third parties to have the necessary rights from applicable rights holders. This includes ensuring they have a license to share this content, if a license is required by law.”
This Instagram’s new statement may play a vital role in an ongoing case concerning Newsweek and physicist/photographer Elliot McGucken. Last year, the magazine approached Elliot McGucken to use a photo he had taken, which he refused to give Newsweek the license to use the photo. Newsweek then went ahead to embed a post from McGucken’s Instagram page containing the same photo.
Elliot McGucken sued for copyright infringement arguing that permission was not given to Newsweek to use the photo. Newsweek spoke in response claiming it didn’t need McGucken’s permission to embed an Instagram post on its site, based on Instagram’s terms of service. According to reports, Mashable won a similar case of the same structure back in April. And earlier this week the Judge in charge of the McGucken/Newsweek’s case refused to disregard the lawsuit claiming there wasn’t enough evidence to decide whether Instagram’s terms of service rendered copyright licenses for embedded photos.
Instagram also told Ars Technica that it is exploring means of giving users more control over photograph embedding. This could be great news for photographers and Instagram users, but I personally feel it does not make sense because embedding an Instagram post on your website is like adding a website link as reference to where you got the post from, which also link back to Instagram when clicked on. With this move Instagram is looking to disorganise the culture of the web, because if this passes through, it won’t be long before every other company follow suit.