Instagram Sued By Photographer Over Copyright Claims

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An attendee takes a photo of the Instagram logo during a press event at Facebook headquarters on June 20, 2013 in Menlo Park, Calif.

A Wisconsin-based photographer filed a lawsuit in California federal court this week alleging that Instagram infringed on one of her copywritten images and ignored her takedown requests.

As first reported by TorrentFreak, photographer Jennifer Rondinelli Reilly claims that Instagram linked to one of her shots -- a pair of red lips and a microphone -- but the company's takedown procedure failed to remove the image, which she registered with the U.S. Copyright Office in 2013.

If rights holders make a takedown request Instagram is expected to act quickly to take down the image, something Reilly says they failed to do in this case despite her sending notices on January 26, 27 and 28 of this year. "Reilly never authorized the Infringing Uses," according to the complaint, which notes that the images are still on the site. "Instagram has not removed or disabled access to the Infringing Uses." Reilly sells the "Red Lips and Microphone" image as a fine art print.

As a result, the lawsuit is seeking a temporary and permanent injunction against the service hosting the photo and compensation for the damage she claims to have suffered, as well as payment of her attorney's fees. In a statement provided to Billboard, Instagram says the company “is aware of the suit and is looking into the matter.” A request to Reilly for comment wasn’t returned at press time.

While Torrentfreak reported that several of the offending images had been removed so far, appear to still be present.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act's "safe harbor" provision protects Internet companies from responsibility for copyright infringement by their users. However, they are protected only if they promptly respond to DMCA takedown requests; if they fail to do so within a reasonable time frame they may be held liable.

Reilly filed a similar lawsuit against Twitter in January over the same image; that case was reportedly dismissed a short time later, though it's unknown if a settlement was reached. She also reportedly sued BuzzFeed in February over copyright issues reportedly related to her images from Santana's Universal Tone Tour; that status of that lawsuit was unknown at press time.

Updated: 1:23 p.m. ET March 30: A statement from Instagram was added.

 

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