US copyright law: Social media, photographs and fair use

Posted in Data protection, privacy and cybersecurity Intellectual property

On 2 November 2020, a federal trial court in New York issued a ruling regarding the use of a photograph taken from a social media post (Boesen v United Sports Publications, Ltd., 20-CV-1552 (ARR) (SIL) (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 2, 2020).

The case began on 6 December 2019 when professional tennis player Caroline Wozniacki announced her retirement from the sport via Instagram, including a low-resolution version of a photograph taken by the plaintiff, a professional photographer. Sports news publisher United Sports Publications ran an article on the Long Island Tennis Magazine website covering Ms. Wozniacki’s retirement announcement. That article included an “embedded” copy of her Instagram post, including the photograph. Having been sued for copyright infringement by the photographer, the sports publisher filed a “motion to dismiss” in return, which the trial court granted on the basis that the publication constituted “fair use” under US federal copyright law.

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