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Top 5 Legal Tips for Small Businesses on Instagram

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on November 20, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

By now, your business likely has some form of social media presence, whether on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or possibly all of the above.

But what about Instagram? This mobile photo- and video-sharing network is becoming an increasingly powerful way for businesses to market their products and services, reports The Associated Press. What should business owners considering or already using Instagram to market their businesses be aware of?

Here are five legal tips for small business owners on Instagram:

  1. Ger permission to post pictures of people. To avoid the potential for a legal dispute, be sure to get permission from customers and even employees before posting someone's picture on Instagram. This is especially important if the photo may be construed as misleading or as implying an endorsement of your product or service.
  2. Follow FTC rules for contests. Instagram has become a popular place for businesses to conduct contests. But business owners should be aware of the Federal Trade Commission's disclosure rules for online promotions.
  3. Be careful with unlicensed music. It may be tempting to add one of your favorite songs to your Instagram video, but using music without first obtaining a license or permission from the artist can result in a copyright infringement lawsuit. Rappers the Beastie Boys were awarded $1.7 million by a jury after Monster Beverage, the maker of Monster energy drinks, used several Beastie Boys songs in a promotional video.
  4. Limit access to the account. Limiting access to your company's Instagram account to those employees who have received the necessary social media training can help avoid inadvertent and potentially costly mistakes.
  5. Read the terms of service. Like any other online service, be sure to know what you're agreeing to when you sign up for Instagram. The company raised eyebrows when it updated its terms of service in 2012 with language allowing it use the names, likenesses, photos, and actions of Instagram users "in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions without any compensation" paid to the user.

Find more legal tips for small business owners at FindLaw's Learn About the Law section on Small Business Law.

Follow FindLaw for Consumers on Google+.

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