Report Stolen Content

How to report stolen content on Instagram

Did someone post your photo or video without your permission and without giving credit to your account? Are they ignoring your questions to please give you credit? Or do you just want it gone? You can have Instagram remove this content for you, very easily.

You own the copyright to any photo or video you take and post on Instagram. No one is allowed to repost this content without your permission. Using a specific #hashtag to get your photo featured, is often considered as an equivalent to giving consent. Most people don’t mind if their content is being reposted without permission, as long as proper credit is given.
But if no credit is given, or if you simply do mind, you can easily have the photo or video taken down by Instagram by filing a DMCA report.

This is the link to file a DMCA report on Instagram.

It is important to know that the person you are reporting will receive any personal information you provide in this report. Don’t let this scare you off – you don’t have to complete all the fields they are asking for. The minimum amount of information required for the report to be valid, is your name and an email address. You do not have to provide more information than this. You do not have to give them your home address or phone number.

Also note that you can only report content that violates your own copyright.

Step by step guide to report stolen content

  1. Click the DMCA link.
  2. Click the option saying you found content that violates your copyright.
  3. Click the next pop up to confirm you want to continue with your copyright report.
  4. Click to add your contact information. As noted above, you only have to provide your name and any email address. Use your real name – not your Instagram account name. You can use your cat account’s email address.
  5. Confirm your email address.
  6. Select your country of residence.
  7. Click on the content you want to report and specify what kind of content it is.
  8. Add the direct link to the content you are reporting. If the account has blocked you, try to get the link via another Instagram account they have not blocked or ask someone else to get you the link.
  9. Select why you are reporting this content.
  10. Click to supply your original work and select the type of content this is.
  11. Add the direct link to the post on your own instagram account.
  12. Optional: you can add attachments that prove you own the copyrights to this content.
  13. Confirm you have the copyright to this content.
  14. Confirm that you agree.
  15. Add your electronic signature (just type your name).
  16. Submit. And you’re done!
  17. Instagram will send you an email confirming your report.
  18. Instagram will send you an email once they have removed or disabled access to the content. This is usually within 48 hours.

This is what a filled out DMCA form would look like.

What if…

  • …I want to report a profile picture?

Follow the steps above, except at step 8 you link to the general profile of the person who is using your picture as profile picture. Then in the same field where you put the link, state very clearly that you are NOT reporting the whole account and that you are only reporting the PROFILE PICTURE.

  • …Instagram does not believe I have the copyright to this content?

It has happened to me several times before that for various reasons, Instagram could not instantly verify I had the copyright to the content I was reporting. For example when I had deleted the content from my own profile, or because the thief had an early unwatermarked version that I deleted from my profile and that I had replaced for a watermarked version on my account.
Do not despair. I have never not been able to get stolen content taken down. If Instagram does not take down your stolen content right away, simply reply to their email with additional proof that it is your copyright.
For example, provide the full resolution photo that is larger in size/crop than what can be found anywhere on the internet, take a photo of your cat in the exact same spot and include a physical note saying your cat belongs to [your name/ig account name], if there are interviews by reputable sources that confirm you are the owner of this cat (account) then link to that, etc. Be creative – if you have the copyright then there are multiple ways to prove it besides providing a link to an instagram post.
Note: it seems that Instagram has (partly) automated the report process. This means that if the thief has cropped or in another way altered the content, Instagram’s image recognition might not automatically recognize it as the same picture. When this happens, you will receive an email from Instagram saying they could not verify that the content violates your copyright. Simply reply to this email and ask them to take another look. This time a person will look at it, who will see it’s the same photo and they will remove it.

General Tips

  • This does not only apply to Instagram. If you find your content on any other (social media) platform such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, Imgur, you name it: find their DMCA form and fill it out. They all basically work the same way.
  • It really helps if you watermark your photos. You can do so in a manner that is not visually distracting. The benefits of this are that people can easily identify you as the owner of the photo which means that:
    1) Even if credit is not given, they can still find you if they like what they see.
    2) People can notify you if they see your content being stolen.
    For me, 100% of copyright reports I file are based on someone notifying me of the theft. Often these come from people I do not know, and I am very grateful to them.
    3) Instagram can very easily determine that it is your content and if you file a report, the stolen content will be taken down very fast.
  • If you have a lot of copyright reports to deal with, you can make this more manageable by creating a collection called ‘report’ in your Instagram collections. Simply save all the stolen content to this collection when you see it, and report them when you have time.
  • Once you’ve found stolent content of yours, it’s very likely that this account does not credit any other content they post either. It would really help if you scan through the feed to see if you can identify the content of others, and if so, notify them. If the person you notified doesn’t know how to report, send them the link to this page (it works in Instagram DMs). This is the only way to put a stop to accounts that repeatedly violate copyright. If they get reported for copyright violations by many individuals, eventually their account will be taken down.