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Who owns intellectual property rights for our Instagram, Flickr and Twitter photos?

Every decade of recent history seems to have its own defining characteristic. People talk about the Roaring 20s, the Depression-stricken 30s, the free-spirited 60s, the rise of IT in 2000s…. And the most defining characteristic of the decade we are living in now is probably social media. We all love connecting with people, adding friends,…

Every decade of recent history seems to have its own defining characteristic. People talk about the Roaring 20s, the Depression-stricken 30s, the free-spirited 60s, the rise of IT in 2000s…. And the most defining characteristic of the decade we are living in now is probably social media. We all love connecting with people, adding friends, and most of all, sharing. Instagram, Facebook or Twitter are playing a very important role on our screens and in our lives.

But living in a world where sharing thoughts, moments, or photos with millions of people is literally as easy as tapping a button, privacy and intellectual property are two concepts that are quite problematic. Once you put a photo up on Instagram or Flickr, it seems to belong to the world. And it does, up to a point, in that anyone else can see it. However, no one else owns it, unless you stole it from someone else.

But there are people out there who don’t seem to question the concept the property at all. Some people see an interesting photo on Instagram or Flickr and take it without asking if they are allowed to or wondering whether they are doing the right thing or not. A thousand shares later, the author of that photo might see their picture on the home page of a website, without having any idea how it ended up there. Or, even worse, they might see it in shop, as a print on a T-shirt sold by a famous fashion brand all over the world.

This is what happened to Tuana Aziz, a commercial photographer from Sweden, who discovered that the Spanish fashion brand Mango was using one of his photos without his permission. Aziz shared the photo on Instagram in August 2011 and made it his profile picture in February 2012. Aziz came across the shirt featuring his photo in a shop in Sweden and then discovered that the brand was selling it online as well.

And Tuana Aziz’s case is not unique. In 2012, New-York based photographer Sion Fullana discovered that that two of his photos ended up on the Instagram account of Vogue Spain without his permission.

However, the most notorious case is probably the one of Daniel Morel, who was awarded $1.2M in the lawsuit against Agence France-Presse, after the company used one of his Twitter photos without his permission. As a photo-journalist, Morel took photos in Haiti, after the 2010 earthquake. One of his photos, depicting a native woman trapped under the rubble, was pulled by AFP from his Twitter account and used without his consent.

Given the fact that Morel was finally compensated after a lawsuit  that went on for almost 3 years, it could be said that his case was a lucky one. But the same cannot be said about the AFP representatives, who lost more than time and money. They also lost some of their prestige and maybe the trust of their readers. And all of this because they did not think twice before using a Twitter account that did not belong to them.

Lobster is trying to change this mindset. Lobster is trying to protect intellectual property by convincing people in need of visual content that it is better to buy than to steal. As a buyer, you can purchase a license for a photo for as little as $0.99 and use that photo as many times as you want. Licensing from users via Lobster gives you peace of mind and keeps your lawyer or the lawyers of your company headache-free. Because Lobster wants to help us appreciate social media for what it is: a place where information is exchanged, not stolen.

Join Lobster Marketplace and make sure you’re making history! Share your stories of stolen social content with us and we will publish them on our Facebook page.

 

Sources:

http://www.dailydot.com/news/mango-fashion-instagram-photo-theft/

http://www.dailydot.com/news/vogue-instagram-photos-stolen-sion-fullana/

http://petapixel.com/2013/11/23/daniel-morel-awarded-1-2m-damages-law-suit-afp-getty-images/

http://petapixel.com/2013/01/15/judge-rules-news-agencies-cannot-use-twitter-photos-without-permission/

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