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NY Court Allows Use of Third-Party Photo Embedding, Thanks to Instagram’s Terms of Service

MSK Client Alert
April 21, 2020

In the past few years, the advent of social media has increasingly tested the bounds of copyright law.  The issue of whether “in-line linking” or “embedding” constitutes actionable copyright infringement is no exception.

Early last week, in Stephanie Sinclair v. Ziff Davis, LLC, and Mashable, Inc., 1:18-cv-00790 (SDNY, April 13, 2020), Judge Kimba Wood held that Defendant Mashable did not engage in copyright infringement by embedding of Plaintiff photographer Stephanie Sinclair’s photograph “Child, Bride, Mother/Child Marriage in Guatemala” (the “Photograph”). The Court determined that Mashable used the Photograph, which was posted to Sinclair’s publicly viewable Instagram account, pursuant to a valid sublicense granted to Instagram by Sinclair.  Accordingly, Judge Wood granted Mashable’s motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on the grounds that Sinclair failed to state a claim for copyright infringement.

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