You Could Be Sued For Posting Your Own Image, But You're Probably Not Famous Enough

Going back to the blog entry from a couple of weeks ago - this week’s blog entry is also about copyright. More specifically, it has to do with sharing images on Instagram (or republishing any images, in general).

Here are a couple of examples that have been in the news lately (both involving Musicians):

  • Bruno Mars is getting sued by a photographer for posting a photographer’s photo on his Instagram account. Apparently, Mars did not seek permission from the photographer to share the image, nor did he license or purchase the rights to share the photo, nor did he give credit to the photographer. What makes this case interesting, is that the actual photo itself is an image of a 3 year old Mars.
  • Former Queen guitarist, Brian May’s Instagram account was temporarily shut down due to copyright infringement. Again, he used an image (of himself) without giving credit to the photographer, licensing the photo or seeking the permission of the photographer.

To summarize, in both these instances, prominent figures are being sued by photographers for copyright violation. The photographers (as creators of the image) are protected by copyright law from having a photo used without permission (or compensation) - even though the person republishing the photo is the subject of the image.

If you’re into sharing images online - I found a good resource/guide to help you avoid some trouble. Actually, the example used in the guide should be familiar to readers of this blog. We took a look at the situation they illustrated as an example in July.

At any rate, when it comes to re-posting images that you didn’t make yourself, there are many subtleties and complexities that boil down to this:

  1. Always credit the photographer in your post
  2. Always get the photographer’s permission (you may also need the permission of any people depicted in the photograph as well)
  3. If the photographer asks you for a fee, pay them or take the post down

Let me know what you think of all this. Do you think photographers are going too far in protecting their images? Do people have a right to use their own image (even if it violates the letter of the law)? Should celebrities have special consideration?Let me know in the comments.

Also don’t forget to follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Feature Photograph of the Week - Patallacta

   
  
   
  
    
  
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  View from the Inca Trail of the Incan town of Patallacta. The town was, and is still, located at the intersection of two rivers; the Rio Cusichaca and the Urubamba.

View from the Inca Trail of the Incan town of Patallacta. The town was, and is still, located at the intersection of two rivers; the Rio Cusichaca and the Urubamba.