By Melony Roy
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Does adding a designated hashtag to a photo give companies the right to use them? The issue recently drew attention when the New York Times published photos taken from Instagram.
The Times asked readers to use the hashtag “N-Y-T Snow” when uploading storm pictures last week. Does that imply consent to use your photos anywhere they want?
Philadelphia intellectual property Attorney Richard Peirce says not necessarily.
“The use of a hashtag in and of itself without any other type of license or permission language is unlikely to give to the creator of the hashtag any rights in appropriating content for use in that way,” he said.
It can become a legal issue if the use is beyond the scope of implied consent.
Peirce explains a possible example: “Oh, I only thought I was going to appear on this big screen and now it’s appearing on the internet and now it’s appearing on these other social media sites and all of a sudden I see it in a marketing brochure. That goes beyond the scope of the permission I gave,” he says.
Peirce says when it comes to intellectual property, sometimes the law is three steps behind technology.