Key Takeaways:

  • Don’t post content you didn’t create or lack permission for, including photos, videos, or music. This violates intellectual property rights like copyright and trademark.
  • Copyright protects original creations like art, music, and writing. Trademarks safeguard logos, slogans, and brand names. Be cautious about using elements that might infringe.
  • If unsure about ownership, err on the side of caution. Give credit to the original creator or obtain permission for use.

With over one billion active users, Instagram has become a hotspot for sharing visual content, making it a prime platform for intellectual property infringement.

From reposting images without permission to using copyrighted music in videos, Instagram users often inadvertently or intentionally infringe upon the intellectual property rights of others.

As a content creator or business on Instagram, understanding the risks and consequences of intellectual property infringement on Instagram is crucial.

In this article, we will explore the various ways intellectual property rights are violated on Instagram, the potential consequences of infringement, and how you can protect your intellectual property on this popular social media platform.

What is Intellectual Property Infringement on Instagram?

Intellectual property infringement on Instagram occurs when someone uses another person’s creative work, such as images, videos, or other original content, without obtaining the proper permission or authorisation from the copyright holder.

This infringement can take various forms, such as reposting images, sharing videos, or even copying and pasting captions or comments.

In a nutshell, it is definitely a violation of the creator’s intellectual property rights. These rights also include copyright, trademarks and other related rights.

On Instagram, intellectual property infringement is a widespread issue, as the platform’s primary focus is sharing visual content.

Users might unknowingly or intentionally share copyrighted material, putting themselves at risk for legal consequences and potentially damaging the original creator’s ability to monetise or control the use of their work.

Further Reading: Protect Your Brand on Instagram

Copyright Report on Instagram

report for copyright breach
  • Identify the copyrighted content: If you come across any content on Instagram that you believe is infringing on your copyright, you need to identify the specific content that is infringing.
  • Gather evidence: Take screenshots or record the URL of the post or profile that you believe is infringing on your copyright. Make sure you have evidence that proves that you are the rightful owner of the copyrighted content.
  • Submit a report to Instagram: You can submit a report to Instagram through their online copyright infringement form. Provide all the details of the copyright infringement, including the evidence you have gathered.
  • Wait for Instagram’s response: Instagram will review your report and take appropriate action, which may include removing the infringing content and disabling the user’s account.

Further Reading: Copyright and Digital Intellectual Property Rights

Types of Intellectual Property Infringement on Instagram

Intellectual property infringement on Instagram can manifest in several ways, as it involves the unauthorised use of copyrighted, trademarked, or otherwise protected material.

Some common types of intellectual property infringement on the platform include:

1. Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement on Instagram occurs when a user reposts, shares, or copies another user’s original content, including images, videos, captions, or comments, without obtaining the necessary permission from the copyright holder.

Copyright protection automatically applies to original works of authorship, such as photographs, artwork, music, and written text.

By law, the creator of the work owns the copyright and has the exclusive right to control the distribution, reproduction, and display of their content.

When someone infringes on these exclusive rights by using the content without permission, it can negatively impact the original creator in various ways:

Loss of revenue: Unauthorised use of copyrighted content can dilute the value of the work, as the original creator may lose potential customers or clients who can access the content for free or through unauthorised sources.

Loss of control: When others share or distribute copyrighted content without permission, the original creator loses control over how, where, and when their work is displayed, potentially diminishing its overall impact and value.

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Damage to reputation: If the unauthorised use of copyrighted content is of lower quality or is used in a context that the original creator does not approve of, it can harm their reputation and credibility in their field.

Legal consequences: Copyright owners have exclusive rights to obtain the legal remedies.

The legal remedies are injunctions and damages against the copyright infringers.

2. Trademark Infringement

Trademark infringement occurs when someone uses a logo, brand name, or other distinctive symbols associated with a specific business or brand without authorisation.

Trademarks serve as a unique identifier for a brand, helping consumers recognise and differentiate between products and services in the marketplace.

Trademark owners have the exclusive right to use their distinctive symbols in connection with the goods or services they offer.

On Instagram, trademark infringement can happen in various ways, including:

Unauthorised use in profiles: A user might include a trademarked logo or brand name in their profile picture, username, or bio without permission from the trademark owner.

This unauthorised use could lead to confusion among users, who might mistakenly believe that the account is officially affiliated with or endorsed by the brand.

Unauthorised use in posts or Stories: A user may use a trademarked logo or brand name in their posts or Instagram Stories without authorisation.

This could involve displaying the trademark in images or videos or incorporating it into captions or hashtags.

Such use might imply that the content is sponsored or approved by the trademark owner, potentially misleading users and harming the brand’s reputation.

Counterfeit goods and services: Some users might promote or sell counterfeit goods or services on Instagram that bear a trademarked logo or brand name without the owner’s permission.

This not only infringes on the trademark owner’s rights but also deceives consumers and undermines the brand’s value.

Further Reading: How to Report Fake Profile on Instagram

3. Trade Dress Infringement

Trade dress infringement occurs when someone imitates or copies the overall visual appearance of a product or its packaging, which is distinctive and associated with a specific brand.

Trade dress can encompass various visual elements, such as color schemes, patterns, shapes, designs, and even the layout or arrangement of elements, as long as they create a distinctive impression in the minds of consumers.

Trade dress protection aims to prevent confusion among consumers and protect the brand’s reputation and identity.

On Instagram, trade dress infringement can take several forms, including:

Imitating content style: A user might copy the unique visual elements of a brand’s content, such as the color scheme, composition, or image editing style, to create content that closely resembles that of the brand.

This imitation could mislead users into believing that the content originates from or is endorsed by the brand, potentially causing confusion and diluting the brand’s distinctiveness.

Copying profile aesthetics: A user may imitate the overall aesthetic of a brand’s Instagram profile, including the layout of images, color schemes, or even the way images are captioned.

This could create a misleading impression that the user’s profile is associated with or endorsed by the brand, resulting in consumer confusion and potential harm to the brand’s reputation.

Mimicking product packaging: In some cases, users might post images of products or packaging that closely resemble the trade dress of a well-known brand.

This imitation could deceive users into thinking that the products are genuine or affiliated with the brand, potentially harming the brand’s value and consumer trust.

4. Right of Publicity Violations

The right of publicity is a legal concept that gives individuals the right to control and profit from their own name, image, and likeness.

When someone uses another person’s name, image, or likeness without their permission, it can harm that individual’s reputation or ability to control the commercial use of their identity.

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For example, if someone posts a photo or video of a celebrity, influencer, or any other person on Instagram without their consent, it can be considered a violation of their right of publicity.

This means that the person who posted the image or video may be infringing on the individual’s legal right to control how their name, image, or likeness is used for commercial purposes.

This type of infringement can result in legal action being taken against the person who posted the content.

5. Derivative Works

A “derivative work” refers to a new piece of content that has been created using an existing copyrighted work as its source material.

This means that the new work is based on, or derived from, the original work.

Examples of derivative works include fan art, which is created by fans of a particular work of art or entertainment, remixes, which involve taking existing audio or video material and editing it to create a new version.

Also adaptations, which involve taking a work from one medium, such as a book, and transforming it into another medium, such as a movie or television show.

It is important to note that creating a derivative work without permission from the copyright owner is generally illegal and can result in legal consequences.

If you want to create a derivative work, you should obtain permission from the copyright owner or ensure that your use falls under a legal exception, such as fair use in the United States.

Further Reading: What to Write to Avoid Copyright Infringement

How to Prevent Intellectual Property Theft on Instagram

prevent ip theft

Create original content: One of the best ways to avoid infringing on someone else’s intellectual property is to create your own original content.

This means taking your own photos, creating your own artwork, or writing your own captions.

Use royalty-free or licensed content: You can also use content that is available under royalty-free or licensed terms.

This content can be used without infringing on anyone’s intellectual property rights, as long as you abide by the terms and conditions of the license.

Obtain permission: If you want to use someone else’s intellectual property on your Instagram account, such as a photo or artwork, you should obtain permission from the owner first.

You can do this by contacting the owner directly or using a licensing service.

Give credit: If you do use someone else’s intellectual property, be sure to give them proper credit by tagging them in the post or mentioning them in the caption.

Avoid using trademarked material: Trademarks are words, phrases, symbols, or designs that identify and distinguish a particular brand or product.

Using someone else’s trademark on your Instagram account without permission can lead to legal consequences, so it’s best to avoid using trademarked material altogether.

Understand fair use: In some cases, you may be able to use someone else’s intellectual property without permission if it falls under the doctrine of fair use.

However, fair use is a complex and nuanced area of copyright law, so it’s important to understand the specific factors that determine fair use before relying on it as a defence.

Exception To Copyright Infringement

  1. Fair use: This exception allows the use of copyrighted material for purposes such as criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. The use must be transformative, meaning that it adds something new or creates a new meaning or message from the original work.
  2. Public domain: Works that are in the public domain are not protected by copyright and can be freely used by anyone. Generally, works enter the public domain when the copyright has expired or if the copyright owner has dedicated the work to the public domain.
  3. Creative Commons licenses: These are licenses that allow the copyright owner to give permission for others to use their work under certain conditions. There are different types of Creative Commons licenses, each with its own set of conditions and restrictions.
  4. Parody: The use of copyrighted material in a parody is generally considered to be a fair use. A parody is a work that uses elements of an existing work to create a new work that comments on or criticises the original work.
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What’s Next?

Intellectual property infringement on Instagram is a serious issue that can negatively impact content creators, businesses, and individuals alike.

From unauthorised use of images to plagiarism of captions and videos, protecting your intellectual property on social media platforms like Instagram is essential.

To safeguard your copyright and prevent infringement, consider employing Bytescare digital protection service. With Bytescare, you can monitor and protect your digital content, ensuring that your intellectual property remains safe and secure on Instagram and other social media platforms.

Book a demo today to learn more about how Bytescare can help you protect your copyright from infringement.


What is intellectual property infringement on Instagram?

Intellectual property infringement on Instagram refers to the unauthorised use of someone else’s intellectual property, such as photos, artwork, or trademarks, on the platform without permission.

How can I tell if my Instagram post infringes on someone else’s intellectual property?

To determine if your Instagram post infringes on someone else’s intellectual property, you should consider whether you have permission to use the content, whether you are giving proper credit, and whether your use falls under the doctrine of fair use.

What should I do if I receive a notice of intellectual property infringement on Instagram?

If you receive a notice of intellectual property infringement on Instagram, you should promptly remove the infringing content and consider obtaining permission or a license for the content in the future.

Can I use copyrighted content on Instagram if I give proper credit?

Giving proper credit for copyrighted content on Instagram does not necessarily provide a legal defense against infringement.
It is best to obtain permission or a license for copyrighted content before using it.

How can I obtain permission to use someone else’s intellectual property on Instagram?

To obtain permission to use someone else’s intellectual property on Instagram, you can contact the owner directly or use a licensing service.

What is fair use, and how does it apply to Instagram?

Fair use is a legal doctrine that allows for the limited use of copyrighted material without permission for purposes such as commentary, criticism, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. However, fair use is a complex area of law, and its applicability to Instagram content depends on the specific facts of each case.

Can I use public domain content on Instagram without permission?

Yes, public domain content is free to use without permission, as the copyright has expired or the work was created by the government.

What are the consequences of intellectual property infringement on Instagram?

The consequences of intellectual property infringement on Instagram can include legal action, fines, damages, and the loss of the infringing content or account.

What is a DMCA takedown notice, and how does it relate to Instagram?

A DMCA takedown notice is a legal request to remove content that is allegedly infringing on someone else’s intellectual property.
Instagram provides a process for submitting and responding to DMCA takedown notices.

Can I use trademarked material on Instagram if I am not selling anything?

No, using trademarked material on Instagram without permission can lead to legal consequences, even if you are not selling anything.
It is best to avoid using trademarked material altogether.