Can I please take your picture so I can own you… legally, I promise?

So what I’ve been suspicious of since I was a little girl has been confirmed. Disney really is the root of all evil. Ever since Bambi’s mother was shot down in… Oh wait, can I write this? Is this intellectual property and am I going to get a strongly worded, passive aggressive letter in the mail from Disney lawyers any minute now? Oh Disney, your little tantrum back in 1998 to push the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act” or the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act”  really let loose the cannons on freedom of culture and art. Cutting off anyones ability from 50, to 70 and now ultimately 120 years to use copyrighted images in any form really dulls the excitement of revelling in a pop culture phenomenon.

For example Taylor Swift, pop star and the world’s sweetheart and everyones BFF has her own little copyright darkside. Her legal team were like the Bobba Fett of the ‘etsy’ world… Hunting down small time, amateur creatives who just want to relish in what Swift has given them. Allegedly, numerous sellers had been hit by copyright infringements sent by Swift’s ‘swift’ moving team for creating and selling items with song lyrics, images of her “1989” album and such. So poor old Swifty now has total domain over website names, etsy sellers and her lawyers message to anyone wanting to use her ‘things’? “You Belong with Me”, love Taylor Swift (and others).


So what about the small time creators of art and culture, who use media platforms such as Instagram to share their work? Not everyone has a fleet of lawyers catching out the wrongdoers of the World Wide Web, taking others work and claiming it as their own. So say I take my friend, let’s name her Chelsea (since to use a friend example I suppose I’d need friends… hey uni bar, hit me up), Chelsea takes a photo and renders it with a filter, and downgrades the quality and then posts it on her own personal instagram. You would then assume that picture, that she created is her own personal creation, and that she has ownership over it. You would of course, be wrong. According to Instagram’s (whom funnily enough is owned by Facebook) sneaky terms and conditions, you give up any ownership of your own content once it is in their domain. This means Chelsea’s image could be taken, used and not even credited as her own if Instagram so chose to.

Not only is this a moral, and a highly frustrating issue to deal with from a consumers view but also a lapse in freedom of art and expression. To not even know whether you’re own work will be stolen and used without consequence and to know that if the same was happening to a big company, the consequences would be massive. There is a case of the “CC” – or Creative Commons which allows for some creative liberties to be taken – but it still allows for restrictions on creativity and a read/write consumer basis.

Essentially I find Instagram’s creative license interesting, as is the connotations for actual issues arising from said ownership laws intensely disturbing as it sets a precedence for further lawsuits and ethical web browsing situations.  Therefore, my chosen platform is instagram.


Saloon.O, 2011, Creative Commons101: An introduction to CC licences, Blog post, viewed 26 March 2015 <;

One thought on “Can I please take your picture so I can own you… legally, I promise?

  1. I really like this post! It’s written so well. I totally agree with the section on a lapse in freedom. And I love the Taylor Swift reference! Overall, this is a really well thought out and put together post that is filled with the right information on the topic of Copyright and it’s problems. Great post!


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