We’re getting used to seeing companies, government agencies, and even museums ask for unnecessarily broad copyright terms in their photo contests. Some go as far as having photographers surrender all copyright to the images they enter. Others want unrestricted rights to use photos in any way they see fit, including sublicensing to third parties. And, thankfully, some respect the rights of photographers and other creative artists. The latest example was brought to our attention by NANPA member Mark Larson and, while better than some, still has a few areas of concern.
Can an online publisher simply embed a photographer’s Instagram post in an online story without paying that photographer or obtaining express permission to do so? Unfortunately, a recent New York district court decision in Sinclair v. Ziff Davissuggests the answer is yes, as long as they do so consistent with Instagram’s various service agreements. While some online publishers have been embedding Instagram posts in their stories for a while, Sinclair is the first court decision that gives legal cover to the practice, leading some photographers to reassess how they use Instagram, and indeed all social media, going forward.