Federal judge rules in favor of Meta in copyright lawsuit

This week, Meta came out on top in a lawsuit filed against Facebook involving copyright infringement. The photographer suing Meta claimed that Facebook’s feature that lets people embed images from other websites violates the photographer’s copyright.

What happened

A federal judge in San Francisco ruled Tuesday on photographer Don Logan’s proposed class action lawsuit. Logan alleged that Facebook embedded his and others’ photographs on third-party websites without their permission.

Why it didn’t work

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer cited two major flaws in the allegations.

  • First: Logan did not allege that any sites saved exclusive photos to their servers without permission. According to the 9th Circuit’s controversial “server test,” a website is only in violation of copyright laws if the work is also stored on its servers.
  • Secondly, Logan failed to show that his and other photographers’ photos were registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.

The photographer further alleged that Meta misrepresented the “creation and ownership” of his work. However, Judge Breyer dismissed this claim.

Tech and ethics

Though Meta won this case, it’s no stranger to claims like these. Just last year, Instagram (owned by Meta) came under fire when photographers claimed their exclusive right to display their photos was violated by third-partying embedding. Similarly, though, the case was dismissed on the grounds that the works were not also stored on the site’s servers. Additionally, multiple lawsuits have claimed Instagram has enabled copyright infringement via third-party sites since as early as 2013.

It’s not over yet

Logan got permission to amend his complaint, and Judge Breyer said he might be able to show Meta had, in fact, saved some of the photos to its servers. Logan’s story, representing many photographers, continues to develop. Other cases like this are still emerging.

Meta hasn’t commented on the ruling yet.

Maddy Cowee
Maddy Cowee
Maddy Cowee is a writer, editor and film student.

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