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Re-Sharing User-Generated Content, Legally

Let’s talk about re-sharing user-generated content, legally, on Instagram. By the end of this post, you’ll understand 1) what user-generated content is, and 2) what it means to share user-generated content while complying with copyright law.

There are a few ways that this can come up.

The first is where a brand has tagged you in a photo where maybe they’re talking about you. This could be in influencercontext, or this could be just any user on Instagram tagging a product that they like or use and talking about it. Technically speaking, even though they’re tagging the brand or they’re talking about a product, you do not have consent to share a photo that you don’t own unless you seek permission. This is because of copyright law, of course. Usually the person that creates the content — like a photograph — owns that content. You may be able to seek a license or permission to use that content, but you don’t own that content. Giving someone credit or linking to her account is nice, but, number one, might not be necessary, and number two, it’s not enough to “absolve” you from copyright infringement. 

The second scenario is summed up in this question: what if it’s already on Instagram? If it’s already out there, isn’t it free to use? Answer: NO. Instagram’s own “Community Guidelines” kind of talk about this. The guidelines say: 

Share only photos and videos that you’ve taken or have the right to share.

Instagram Privacy and Safety Center, Community Guidelines

Instagram also goes through a little spiel on intellectual property rights and copyright and says,

The best way to help make sure that the content you post to Instagram doesn’t violate copyright law is to only post content that you’ve created yourself.

Instagram Help Center, Copyright

… and they’re right.

A lot of people go by the adage of “just give them credit and you can use it” but that’s that’s not legally correct. In other words, to put it simply in one sentence, you should be seeking permission for every photo — whether it’s a story or photo in your feed — before re-sharing it.

If you’re concerned whether you’re re-sharing user-generated content, legally, it’s better to ask permission before posting, just to be safe!

What’s that? Free info? Yes, please. Click below to learn four things you can do right now to protect your business online.