Photographer sues Volvo over Instagram photos

| Aug 28, 2020 | Copyright Law

Not everyone uses their own photos on Instagram. It started as a platform to simply share the pictures you took with your smartphone, but it has evolved into much more than that, especially when considering branding.

Well, that use has caused a lawsuit between a photographer and the car company Volvo. He says that they used some of his pictures without permission.

According to reports, the photographer took pictures of a Volvo and a model. He saved most of them and put a few on social media, via Instagram. He added relevant tags so that the car company would notice the pictures, and they did.

It appears that they contacted him through Instagram at first, asking if they could share his pictures. This is a common tactic. Most people just say yes, but he did not. Instead, he emailed the company to talk about licensing the photos to them. He didn’t want to share his work for free.

Volvo never emailed him back, but the company shared the photos anyhow. And, as the photographer contends, they did so without first getting his permission. They had asked for it, but simply asking is not enough to justify the use of someone else’s material without their consent.

This lawsuit does open up a lot of questions. Who owns photos on social media? Who can share them? Who cannot? What is the monetary value of such photos? It will be interesting to see how this lawsuit plays out. It is certainly clear that those involved in these cases need to know what legal options they have — as does any photographer or creative professional when it comes to protecting their interests.