“This is totally going to rake in all the likes!” *uploads photo to Instagram… Congratulations, you’ve just sold your soul to the top dogs who own the platforms Instagram, Facebook and Flickr. Instagram states that ‘copyright is the legal right that protects original works of authorship’ but in early 2013 in the UK, the UK government’s new law puts this property right into question. The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act permits the commercial exploitation of images (when information about the owner is missing -“orphan works”) by categorising the works into “extended collective licensing schemes”. The Act states that a user of a work can act as if they are the owner of the work (which should be the original producer) if they’re given permission to do so by the Secretary of State. It also fails to prohibit sub-licensing so this means that somebody else can wholesale your work.
This is highlighted in the case of Tuana Aziz; a Swedish photographer who in 2011 found a photo he shot and posted onto Instagram had been screen-printed onto a t-shirt and was being sold in a Mango clothing store. The shirt retailed at £8.99 each though the company speedily removed all shirts after Aziz complained.
Not many people are fully aware of the extent to which Instagram owns their images yet it is a highly controversial breach of trust. Lesson of the day: always be conscious of what signing up to something REALLY means and its effect on your originality.
Instagram Help Centre, Last edited March 2014, Accessed 21st March 2014
Instagram Terms and Conditions, Published January 2013, Accessed 21st March 2014
Rogers, K, Instagram users begin fightback against stolen photos, Published February 6 2013, Accessed 21st March 2014
Orlowski, A, UK.Gov passes Instagram Act: All your pics belong to everyone now, Published 29th Apr 2013, Accessed 21st March 2014