An analysis of the fundamental tensions between copyright and social media: The legal implications of sharing images on Instagram

Hayleigh Bosher, Sevil Yesiloglu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Copyright is inherently intertwined with the development of technology and none more so than the advent of the Internet and sharing technologies. More recently, social media platforms have become the latest challenge for copyright law and policy. This article builds on the literature that recognises the underlying conflict between copyright and social networking sites (SNSs); namely that the basic implication of copyright is the restriction of copying, whereas the ethos of social networking is the promotion of sharing. In particular, this article focuses on the disparity between the restricted acts of copying and communication to the public under copyright law and the encouragement of sharing on SNS Instagram. In doing so, it contextualises the debate surrounding copyright and social media and provides an understanding of the legal implications of using Instagram. As such this paper analyses (1) the infringement of copyright protected work on Instagram, and (2) the user-agreement and licensing of copyright material on Instagram. This study concludes that the disparity between the principles of copyright and social media lead to confusion and vulnerability of users. Therefore, it is suggested that Instagram should better inform its users of the implications of sharing third-party content as well as the terms of its user agreement. This could be done by implementing a copyright strategy, which includes a notice and takedown system as well as investing in producing educational content for users. Perhaps SNSs, such as Instagram might be more motivated to take steps to recognise intellectual property rights if they were considered Internet Services Provides such as YouTube.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-186
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Review of Law, Computers and Technology
Issue number2
Early online date4 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2019


  • Copyright
  • social media
  • licensing
  • intellectual property
  • social network
  • Instagram
  • social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law
  • Computer Science Applications


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