If you have a news site or blog, with articles that have embedded Instagram posts, the post owner can sue you for breaching copyright. Shocking, right?

Embedding social media posts such as tweets is a common practice, and usually, companies provide a royalty-free license to use these posts through their embed APIs. However, Instagram‘s posts might not have that kind of protection.

Earlier this week, Judge Katherine Failla, dismissed an appeal from Newsweek to drop lawsuits from photographer Elliot McGucken for using his Instagram photo. As Ars Technica noted, Mashable won a similar case in April, so Newsweek had hopes of getting the same result. However, the judge said it wasn’t clear if Instagram’s terms and conditions provided copyright protection for embedding posts.

Instagram allows a sub-license for content hosted on its platform, but not for embeds API. That means you need to get permission from the person who posted the photo.

In a statement, the company said people need to gain the necessary rights to embed content:

In accordance with our platform policies, we ask that people gain all necessary rights from others before sharing their content.

Right now, if creators have to stop anyone from embedding posts, they would need to make their accounts private. However, that might not be a viable option for everyone. You can’t post publically and switch a toggle to disable embed codes.

This is a super confusing stance from Instagram. Chances are that you might not know that the company doesn’t provide sub-licensing for embedding posts. Plus, there’s no process of obtaining licensing or permission from creators apart from DMing them or finding out their details if they’ve listed them on their profile.

If Instagram doesn’t clear up their stance, usage of its embed API can lead to more lawsuits and confusion in media.

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