The well-known photographer Paul Nicklen won a copyright lawsuit in the US.
The case at hand concerns a dramatic video clip of starving polar bears created by the photographer and uploaded on Facebook and Instagram in 2017.
Without any permission from Paul Nicklen or National Geographic, Sinclair Broadcasting Group embedded this video through a link from Instagram. What’s more they take a screenshot from the video for its cover image.
A lawsuit followed. According to the Sinclair Broadcasting Group there was no infringement because they didn’t used or displayed the video on they website. They just used an embedded link from Instagram, that is to say the video was stored on another server.
According to the law in the US, most precisely the so-called “server rule” online displays or performances of copyrighted content accomplished through “in-line” or “framing” hyperlinks do not trigger the exclusive rights of public display or performance unless the linker also possesses a copy of the underlying work.
The court in New York disagreed with these arguments. The court stressed that the law is technology-neutral and is “concerned not with how a work is shown, but that a work is shown.”
The main problem from that point of view was the fact that although the video was embedded, the screenshot was taken separately and uploaded on the Sinclair Broadcasting Group website, which allowed their visitors to see one part of the video without playing it based on the link to Instagram. This constitutes a copyright infringement because displaying even a part of one work can be done based on permission from the copyright holders.
Other social media such as YouTube and Vimeo have already included an option where creators can choose whether or not their uploaded content to be embedded. For the time being, Facebook and Instagram haven’t done that which can trigger new lawsuits for copyright infringements in the future.
The well-known social-media Instagram part of Facebook won a domain name dispute. The case filed before the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center regards a third party registered domain name for instagam.nl.
Instagram pointed out that this domain is confusingly similar to its registered trademarks INSTAGRAM insofar the difference is only one letter R.
According to the US company, the Respondent had no rights to or legitimate interests in the domain name. This domain was used to point to a webpage entitled “Instagam” under which it was stated: “Allways online / stay connected”. Below the title, the website displayed graphics containing the camera logos of Complainant. The website contained three hyperlinks, including a hyperlink resolving to a page which was headed “instagam IGTV: Watch Instagram Videos”. However, none of the hyperlinks enabled the viewing of videos of Complainant.
The Respondent didn’t use the domain for any goods and services in a fair trade way.
Instagram asserts that the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. Bearing in mind that INSTAGRAM trademark is distinctive and well known throughout the world, Respondent could not reasonably argue that it did not have knowledge of it at the time of registration of the domain.
The WIPO Arbitration upheld all Instagram claims and transferred the domain name.
The US Kirusa initiated a lawsuit in the US against Instagram which aim is to find non-infringement and non-dilution of the Instagram trademark.
The case at hand concerns a registered trademark for Instavoice by Kirusa which was attacked with cancellation by Instagram based on its earlier well-known trademarks.
According to Kirusa, there are no similarities between the signs because the prefix Insta has weak distinctive character, it means something instant, fast.
The company claimed that its registration for Instavoice mark has been done in good faith at least because the company is not a direct competitor to Instagram and do not threaten its business model.
What’s more, Kirusa asked the Court to order Facebook, as an Instagram’s mother company, to stop blocking Kirusa’s profiles and applications in the social network.
This case is part of a more broader approach by Instagram to prevent using the Insta and Gram prefixes and suffixes as trademarks. In light of that, the company has been attacked more than 200 such trademarks trying to accomplish this strategy.