As a social media consultant who works with many entrepreneurs and small business owners, I often get asked: how can I save an Instagram photo to use on my website or in my marketing materials?
It‘s a great question, but the answer involves understanding Instagram‘s photo copyright rules.
In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll explain Instagram‘s terms around downloading photos, the right way to save your own content or ethically use others‘ photos, some best practices around legally using Instagram photos, and more. My goal is to provide the details you need to feel confident saving and sharing Instagram content without inadvertently misusing someone‘s creative work.
Instagram‘s Copyright Rules and Terms of Service
First and foremost, it‘s important to understand that Instagram explicitly prohibits downloading or sharing photos posted by other users without their consent. Their Terms of Service state:
"We do not claim ownership of your content, but you grant us a license to use it."
When you post a photo on Instagram, you retain full copyright ownership and control. Instagram is granted only a limited license to display that photo within their app. You have the final say in how your photo gets used elsewhere.
Additionally, their terms state:
We prohibit crawling, scraping, caching or otherwise accessing any content on the Service via automated means, including but not limited to, user profiles and photos.
This means that third-party apps that offer to download or repost Instagram photos are prohibited from doing so without consent under Instagram‘s terms.
The reason for these strict rules comes down to protecting creative work and preventing copyright infringement. By making it difficult to save photos from the app, Instagram aims to stop unauthorized usage of photos posted on their platform.
Saving Your Own Instagram Photos
However, just because you can‘t easily download photos posted by others doesn‘t mean you can‘t save your own. As the owner of photos you post, you have full rights to re-use that creative content.
Here are simple ways to download your Instagram photos:
- Open the Instagram App and tap your profile picture
- Tap the menu button (3 horizontal lines)
- Choose Settings > Account > Original Posts
- Toggle "Save Original Photos" to ON
This automatically saves photos and videos to your camera roll as you post them.
- Go to Instagram.com and log into your account
- Click your profile avatar and choose Privacy and Security
- Scroll down and click "Request Data Download"
- Select HTML or JSON format
- Check email for the download link (can take up to 48 hours)
The download will be a zip file containing all your Instagram photos, posts, stories, etc. You can then extract your photos from there.
82% of Instagram‘s 500 million daily active users share photos or videos to their feed. Saving your own creative work allows you to re-use it across other platforms.
Ethically Saving Photos Posted by Others
While you shouldn‘t directly download photos posted by other users without consent, there are some ethical options if you come across an Instagram photo you‘d really love to save or share:
Take a Screenshot: There‘s nothing stopping you from taking a screenshot of another user‘s photo. You can save these to refer back to or for inspiration. Just be aware that screenshots carry the same copyright as the original photo and should not be shared or reposted without permission.
Send a Request: If it‘s a photo you think would be great for your own business‘s social posts or website, consider sending a polite DM to the owner. Explain what you‘d like to use it for and ask their permission to either use the original photo or have them send you the full high-resolution file. If granted permission, this lets you legally use their creative work.
Use the Save Button: Every Instagram photo has a save button (ribbon icon) allowing you to bookmark posts to your Saved section. This means you can easily refer back to photos you enjoy without needing to download anything. It‘s a great alternative if you just want to be able to find images again later.
According to Instagram, there are over 4 billion photo likes every single day. Liking and saving is a way to appreciate great images you discover.
Best Practices for Using Saved Instagram Photos
If you‘ve gained consent to use an Instagram photo (whether one you took or one owned by someone else), here are a few best practices:
- Always credit the original photographer by name when reposting their photo
- Link back to the post or their Instagram profile when possible
- If you‘ve edited the photo, note that your post contains an edited or derived version
- Use the images only for the specific use-case granted in their permission
- Monitor your use to make sure it follows any stipulations they provided
Following these guidelines helps respect creative work while also giving proper attribution. For example, if they were willing for you to use their photo on your blog that‘s great. But then using it later in a paid ad campaign exceeds the granted permission.
Be thoughtful in how you save and share photos sourced from Instagram. With proper consent and attribution, you can legally leverage Instagram‘s amazing visual content.
The Takeaway: Respect Copyright, Request Permission
At the end of the day, respecting the creative work and copyright of photos posted to Instagram is incredibly important as a conscientious social media user and marketer. The best practice is always to be considerate, request permission if you‘d like to use a photo, and provide attribution wherever possible.
I hope this in-depth guide has helped explain Instagram‘s photo saving restrictions while also providing ethical solutions. Let me know if you have any other questions!