How protecting your Artist benefits you.

How protecting Artists benefits you.
No, My Instagram Images are NOT free to use.

After a recent conversation with a friend, it became apparent that many of us are under the false impression, that it is not only okay, but legal, and consequence free, to re-use or re-gram any and all content on platforms like Instagram because "as part of the terms of service" content owners sign away their copyright when using the platform (specifically instagram). Unfortunately much of this comes from self styled 'social media gurus' or social media workshop run by those without proper knowledge of copyright or the actual Terms of Service for social media platforms.

This is true, only to the extent of signing over copyright usage to Instagram it self.

Specifically, the four clauses in the TOS of Service for instagram, directly relating to copyright;


  1. Instagram does not claim ownership of any Content that you post on or through the Service. Instead, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service, subject to the Service's Privacy Policy, available here, including but not limited to sections 3 ("Sharing of Your Information"), 4 ("How We Store Your Information"), and 5 ("Your Choices About Your Information"). You can choose who can view your Content and activities, including your photos, as described in the Privacy Policy.
  2. Some of the Service is supported by advertising revenue and may display advertisements and promotions, and you hereby agree that Instagram may place such advertising and promotions on the Service or on, about, or in conjunction with your Content. The manner, mode and extent of such advertising and promotions are subject to change without specific notice to you.
  3. You acknowledge that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such.
  4. You represent and warrant that: (i) you own the Content posted by you on or through the Service or otherwise have the right to grant the rights and licenses set forth in these Terms of Use; (ii) the posting and use of your Content on or through the Service does not violate, misappropriate or infringe on the rights of any third party, including, without limitation, privacy rights, publicity rights, copyrights, trademark and/or other intellectual property rights; (iii) you agree to pay for all royalties, fees, and any other monies owed by reason of Content you post on or through the Service; and (iv) you have the legal right and capacity to enter into these Terms of Use in your jurisdiction.

- Instagram, Updated Terms of Service, Jan 19, 2013

What this means is;

  •  No, you cannot simply re-gram/ re-post work you like the look of just because it suits your motif
  • Yes, you do need to seek verbal or written (preferably written) permission to use the image from the copyright owner (normally the photographer or content producer)
  • No, users have not signed away their control of image use to any party other instagram itself.
  • No, Instagram can't sell you the image, or give you permission to use it.
  • Yes, you may be legally liable for damages / costs should you proceed with use prior to permission.
  • No, simply crediting the artist is not enough.

And No this doesn't mean you can't use the image. You just have to SEEK PERMISSION first.

Depending on your situation/ audience / purpose for sharing the image many artists may be perfectly fine allowing you to use the image, especially when it benefits them in a direct way (eg. driving business / individuals to their social medias and business pages). But even if you feel that your use of the image will do so, usage is at the artist's discretion only. Content producers are under no obligation to allow you to use their work, and they don't need to give you a reason either.

What this really does is protect businesses, artists and others from having people or large companies profit from their hard work whilst receiving zero compensation for all their hard work.

Protecting your artist actually benefits you!

When you help protect the copyright of your artists, it means that because they are able to make a living off their images being used, they also are able to charge you less! Crazy right?
But think about it. If an artist no longer has to worry about their work being stolen, but used profitably, they can afford to spend more time focus on their work and less time chasing copyright infringements and months in court.

So no, no matter what you hear in social media "workshops", you don't get free use of any image you like on instagram. Look after your content creators and they will look after you.