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Meta Platforms, Inc. and the Server Test

By November 4, 2022No Comments

Screenshot of Reuters article about Logan v. Meta Platforms, Inc. (11.4.22)

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Marketing, Communications & Blog Coordinator

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram recently won a copyright case brought against it by a photographer.  Sort of.  The decision by a U. S. District Court judge was based on a prior controversial ruling in the Ninth Circuit that has been disputed and overturned in other Circuits. And, the photographer was invited to amend his complaint.

In Logan v. Meta Platforms, Inc. photographer Don Logan filed a proposed class action suit against the social media giant alleging that his and other photographers’ photos had been embedded from Facebook in third-party sites without the photographers’ permission. In his ruling, Judge Charles Breyer cited the contentious Ninth Circuit ruling that a website can only violate the rights of artist if it hosts the works on its servers. Since clicking on an image to see a larger version would link back to the original post. So, the logic goes, if there is no liability on the third-party site, there can be no copyright violation by Meta Platforms, Inc.

Other courts have come to different conclusions, as we’ve written here, here, here and here. And the judge did hint that Logan may be able to establish that Meta stored some of the photos on its servers. In any event, lawyers representing Logan said they were sure they could, in an amended complaint, meet all of the “flaws” mentioned by the judge.

The story continues: another example of confusion caused by copyright laws and court precedent that have been left in the dust by technological advances. There will be more to come.

NANPA works to protect the rights of photographers on a wide range of copyright and intellectual property issues, including participation in the Copyright Alliance and other coalitions.  Learn more about NANPA’s copyright and IP advocacy here.

Frank Gallagher is a landscape and nature photographer based in the Washington, DC, area who specializes in providing a wide range of photograph services to nonprofit organizations. He serves as NANPA’s Interim Marketing and Communications Coordinator and manages NANPA’s blog. He can be found online at frankgallagherphotography.com or on Instagram @frankgallagherfoto.