The FAQs in this section provide some information about copyrights, including how you can protect your own copyrighted works and avoid infringing the copyrights of other people when posting to Instagram, as well as how Instagram addresses reports of copyright infringement. If you believe someone is using your copyrighted work without your permission, you can fill out this form.
Please note that laws in different countries may vary. For more information on copyright law, you can visit the website of the U.S. Copyright Office or the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Instagram can’t provide you with legal advice, so you may want to speak with an attorney if you have more questions about copyright.
Learn More About Copyright
In most countries, copyright is a legal right that protects original works of authorship. Typically, if you create one of those works, you obtain a copyright from the moment you create it.
Copyright covers a wide variety of types of works, including:
- Visual: videos, movies, TV shows and broadcasts, video games, paintings, photographs
- Audio: songs, musical compositions, sound recordings, spoken word recordings
- Written: books, plays, manuscripts, articles, musical scores
Remember, only original works are eligible for copyright protection. To be original enough for copyright protection, a work needs to be created by the author themselves, and must have some minimal amount of creativity.
Generally, things like names, titles, slogans or short phrases aren't considered to be original enough for copyright protection. For example, the symbol “+” is likely not subject to copyright, but a painting full of shapes and colors arranged in a unique pattern is likely protected under copyright.
Copyright doesn’t generally protect facts or ideas, but it may protect the original words or images that express a fact or idea. This means that you may be able to express the same idea or fact as another author, as long as you don’t copy that author’s way of expressing that idea or fact. For example, a playwright may not be able to copyright the idea of a man waking up to repeat the same day over and over again, but the script for a play or movie expressing that idea could be subject to copyright.
In general, the person who creates an original work owns the copyright in it. For example, if you create a painting, you likely own the copyright in that painting. Similarly, if you take a photo, you generally own the copyright in that photo.
There may be situations where you might think you have a copyright in a creative work, but you may not. For example:
- If you appear in a photo or video, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have a copyright in that photo or video. (If you think a photo or video on Instagram might violate your image privacy rights, you can learn more here.)
- If you take a photograph of a sculpture, that doesn’t mean you have the right to prevent someone else from also taking a photograph of the same sculpture.
- If you create a work as part of your regular job responsibilities, you might not be the owner of the copyright in that work. Instead, there are circumstances where the law will consider your employer to be the “author” of that work for copyright purposes.
If you’re not sure about the extent of your copyright in an original work, you may want to contact an attorney to advise you on your rights.
As the copyright owner, you have certain rights under the law to stop others from copying or distributing your work, or creating new works based on your work. Copyright infringement generally occurs when a person engages in one of these activities without the copyright owner’s permission.
For example, when someone else uploads your photo or video, they made a copy of that photo or video. The same is true if someone uses a song in the soundtrack to a video, even if they paid for a copy of that song on another service.
If you own a copyright, you have the right to grant permission to use your copyrighted work as well as prevent other people from using your copyrighted work without permission.
The law doesn’t allow for copyright protection to last forever. Eventually, a work loses copyright protection and becomes part of the “public domain.” Works that have fallen into the public domain are freely available for anyone to use.
The public domain exists because a central purpose of copyright law is to encourage people to make creative works, so the law gives a copyright owner certain rights, but only for a limited time.
This balance gives the author an incentive to create, but also gives other people the ability to use the work without permission after the copyright expires. There are many factors that affect when a work becomes part of the public domain, including when and where the work was first published, the type of work and the publisher. For example, the Berne Convention, an international treaty about copyright, states that the copyrights for most types of works must last at least 50 years after the author’s death, but countries are free to set longer copyright terms in their own laws.
The law in most countries recognizes copyrights as well as trademarks. Copyright law and trademark law serve two different purposes.
Copyright is meant to foster creativity and to provide incentives to create original works of authorship for the benefit of the public. Copyright protects original works like photos, videos, movies and music. It’s also important to note that, in the U.S., the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) applies only to copyrights and doesn’t apply to trademarks.
Trademark law is meant to prevent consumer harm because it prohibits someone other than the rights owner from using a trademark (for example, a brand’s logo) in a way that may confuse consumers. Trademark law protects brand names, slogans, logos or other symbols that help consumers identify the source of goods or services.
Copyright and Posting Content on Instagram
You might also be able to use someone else’s content on Instagram if you’ve gotten permission (for example, a license), or if your use is covered by fair use or some other exception to copyright. It’s generally a good idea to get permission before posting content, and to get that permission in writing.
Please note that Instagram can’t help you obtain permission to use copyrighted content.
Before you post content on Instagram, you may want to ask:
- Did I create all of the content myself?
- Do I have permission to use all of the content included in my post?
- Does my use of the content fall within an exception to copyright infringement?
- Is the content protected by copyright (for example, is it a short phrase, idea or public domain work)?
The fair use doctrine recognizes that rigid application of copyright laws in certain cases would be unfair or may inappropriately stifle creativity or stop people from creating original works, which would harm the public. So, the doctrine allows people to use someone else’s copyrighted work without permission in certain circumstances. Common examples include: criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, scholarship and research.
Fair use exists in certain countries, including the U.S. Other countries around the world use related laws, such as fair dealing, that allow the use of copyrighted works in certain instances.
Since there are no clear rules that tell you what falls within the fair use doctrine, you may want to consult an attorney if you have questions about whether you are within the boundaries of fair use.
Factors that help determine fair use
Though it's often difficult to know if a particular use of copyrighted work is a fair use, the law offers some factors you can consider:
- The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
- The nature of the copyrighted work
- The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
- The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work
Does the use transform or change the original work by adding new meaning, context or expression? Using a fashion photograph to discuss the amount of photo editing used in the photograph is more likely to be fair use than if the photograph were used without comment. Parodies may be fair use if they imitate a work in a way that criticizes or comments on the original work.
Is the use commercial or purely personal? Commercial, or for-profit, uses are less likely to be considered fair use.
The use of factual works like maps or databases is more likely to be fair use than the use of highly creative works like poems or science-fiction movies.
The use of small portions of a copyrighted work is more likely to be fair use than copying an entire work. But even if a small portion is taken, the use is less likely to be fair if the portion used is the most important piece — the “heart” of the work.
Will the use replace the original work such that people stop buying or viewing the copyrighted work? If so, this is less likely to be fair use.
In most cases, you shouldn’t use someone else’s copyrighted work if you don’t have permission. It is possible to infringe copyright without intending to do so. Remember, your use of someone else’s content may still be infringing their copyright, even if you:
- Give credit to the copyright owner
- Include a disclaimer that you don’t intend to infringe copyright
- Say that the use is a fair use
- Didn’t intend to profit from it
- Bought or downloaded the content (for example, a copy of a DVD or a song from the Internet)
- Modified the work or added your own original material to it
- Found the content available on the internet
- Recorded the content onto your own recording device (for example, from a movie, concert, sporting event, etc.)
- Saw that others have posted the same content as well
When we receive a report from a rights owner claiming content on Instagram infringes their intellectual property rights, we may need to promptly remove that content from Instagram without contacting you first.
If we remove content you posted because of an intellectual property report through our online form, you’ll receive a notification from Instagram that includes the name and email address of the rights owner who made the report and/or the details of the report. If you believe the content shouldn’t have been removed, you can follow up with them directly to try to resolve the issue.
If the content was removed under the notice and counter-notice procedures of the United States Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), you may be able to file a DMCA counter-notification. Similarly, if the content was removed based on U.S. trademark rights, and if you believe the content should not have been removed, you will be provided an opportunity to submit an appeal. In these cases, you'll receive further instructions about this process in the notification you receive from Instagram.
If you repeatedly post content that infringes someone else’s intellectual property rights, your account may be disabled under Instagram’s repeat infringer policy.
If something you posted is restored due to an appeal or because a rights owner withdrew their report, we’ll take that restoration into account under our repeat infringer policy.
Instagram complies with the notice and takedown procedures defined in section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”), which applies to content reported and removed for infringing United States copyrights.
If your content was removed under the notice and counter-notice procedures of the DMCA, you will receive instructions about the counter-notification process, including how to file a counter-notification, in the warning we send you.
When we receive an effective DMCA counter-notification, we promptly forward it to the reporting party. If the reporting party does not notify us that they have filed an action seeking a court order to restrain you from engaging in infringing activity on Instagram related to the material in question within 10-14 business days, we may restore or cease disabling eligible content under the DMCA.
In rare instances, we may not be able to restore content due to technical limitations. In that event, we’ll send you an update letting you know you may repost the content to the site at your discretion. Restored content will not be counted against you if your account is ever reviewed for potentially violating our policies about repeat infringement.
Reporting Copyright Infringement on Instagram
If you believe someone is infringing your copyright, you can report it to us by filling out this form. You can also contact our designated agent. If you contact our designated agent, please be sure to include a complete copyright claim in your report.
Before you submit a report of copyright infringement, you may want to send a message to the person who posted the content. You may be able to resolve the issue without contacting Instagram.
Remember, only the copyright owner or their authorized representative may file a report of copyright infringement. If you believe something on Instagram infringes someone else’s copyright, you may want to let the rights owner know.
Please note that we regularly provide the rights owner’s name, your email address and the details of your report to the person who posted the content you are reporting. In the case that you are an authorized representative submitting a report, we provide the name of the organization or client that owns the right in question. You may wish to provide a valid generic business or professional email address for this reason.
Before you submit a report, please consider whether the content you want to report may be a permissible use of your copyright or trademark. If you’re not sure whether the content you’re reporting infringes your legal rights, because it may be a fair use or otherwise, you may want to seek legal guidance.
Please note that submitting a report of intellectual property infringement is a serious matter with potential legal consequences. Intentionally submitting misleading or otherwise fraudulent reports of copyright or trademark infringement may lead to Instagram taking action, including termination of your account.
For copyright, it’s important to note that intentionally submitting a misleading or fraudulent report may also lead to liability for damages under section 512(f) of the United States Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) or similar laws in other countries.
The fastest and easiest way to send a DMCA report of copyright infringement to our designated agent is to fill out our online form.
If you wish to reach our designated agent through other (and slower) methods, you can contact:
Attn: Instagram Designated Agent
1601 Willow Road
Menlo Park, California 94025
The fastest and easiest way to submit a claim of copyright infringement to us is to use our online form. Whether you submit your report through our online form or another method, Instagram needs the following information to be able to process your report:
- Your complete contact information (full name, mailing address and phone number)*
- A description of the content on our site that you claim infringes your copyright
- Information reasonably sufficient to permit us to locate the material on our site. The easiest way to do this is by providing web addresses (URLs) leading directly to the allegedly infringing content. Learn how to find a URL.
- A declaration that:
- You have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted content described above, in the manner you have complained of, is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law
- The information in your notice is accurate
- Under penalty of perjury, you are the owner or authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive copyright that is allegedly infringed
- Your electronic signature or physical signature
*Please note that we regularly provide your name, contact information and the contents of your report to the person who posted the content you are reporting. If you are an authorized representative submitting a report, we provide the name of the organization or client that owns the right in question. You may wish to provide a professional or business email address for this reason.
When we receive copyright claims through our online form and remove the reported content, we typically provide the reported user with the following information:
- Report number
- Rights owner’s name
- Email address provided by the reporting party
- Description of the rights owner’s copyrighted work
- Description of the removed content
In rare instances (such as when we are contacted by fax, mail or email), we pass through the report number and a description of the removed content, and additional information can be provided upon request.
For any content that was removed under the notice and counter-notice procedures of the United States Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), we will include information about how to submit a counter-notification under the DMCA.
If you submitted a copyright report to us through our form or via email, you'll receive an automated email that contains information about your report, including a unique report number. You should save this number in case you need to contact us about your report.
Sometimes, we might have a question about your report. In this case, we might respond to your report and ask for more information. If you receive an email from our team asking for more information about your report, you can and should respond directly to that email. Your response will be received by our team so they can continue to look into your report.
When we remove content in response to a report of copyright infringement, we notify the person you reported to inform them the content was removed.
We also provide them with your contact information, including your email address and the name of your organization or client, and/or the contents of your report.
If the person who posted the content believes that the content shouldn’t have been removed, they may reach out to you directly to try to resolve the issue. If the content was removed under the notice and counter-notice procedures of the United States Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), they may also be able to submit a counter-notification under the DMCA.
If you submitted an intellectual property report, but then reached an agreement with the person who posted the content, or if you reported content by mistake, you can withdraw your intellectual property report.
The best way to do that is to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and reference your original report number. Please let us know that you would like to withdraw your report and include identification of the content related to your report.
Once we receive your notice withdrawing your report, we’ll restore the content if it has already been removed and send you an email confirmation. We may be unable to restore the content in certain instances, including due to technical limitations or if the content was removed for other reasons unrelated to your intellectual property report.
- How do I know if I own the copyright in a work?
- Content I posted was removed because it was reported for intellectual property (copyright or trademark) infringement. What are my next steps?
- How can I make sure the content I post to Instagram doesn't violate copyright law?
- What should I consider before submitting a report of intellectual property (copyright or trademark) infringement?