Disney Cruise Line stole my photo & refused to credit me. This actually happened a while ago but it’s still important. Dammit. All the popular brands have accounts on twitter and Instagram etc and some are run quite well, others not so much. Any brand who knows what they’re doing knows to use UGC. But there’s a right way and a wrong/illegal way.

Today I want to talk about The Disney Cruise Line Jobs Instagram account and how they stole my photo and many others tbh, and when I asked for credit they deleted the photo.

Basically User-generated content is 76% more trustworthy than branded advertising. When it comes to UGC and Instagram, there are unwritten rules, the actual law, as well as some “best practices” that aren’t totally legal, but that you can usually get away with.

The #1 rule of reposting UGC to Instagram is to always give photo credit.  When giving photo credit, you always want to reference the original photographer in the caption —simply tagging them in the photo is not enough. Using someone else’s photo without credit is theft. Don’t do it!

As any YouTuber is aware by now, copyright is a bitch and tbh it’s too much for me to get that deep into. But basically when it comes to IG, if you upload content, it’s covered by intellectual property rights as long as it’s original content. Instagram technically has a claim to it as well but if any third party wants to use that content, and neither Instagram nor the user who posted the image has given permission – then copyright infringement will have taken place. Fair use is a thing, but that won’t apply in this situation.

Rewind to July 2018, I had posted a lovely photo of Mt Rustmore, a photo location on Disney’s Private Island Castaway Cay from when I was a Crew Member on the Disney Fantasy. I tagged the photo with a few hashtags, DCL Jobs being one of them. As I’m sure most of us do, I love it when my content is featured*. Months later in August, since I follow the account, I saw my photo had been reposted on the verified disneycruisejobs ig, with no credit, at all and was exceeding 900 likes. So I reached out via comment on their repost of my original work,

Innocent enough? Well, they deleted the comment.

Their respond in a direct message came shortly after reading, “For ‘safety’ purposes, TWDC does not allow us to tag members of our crew for protection. There are various members of our team scouting photos and connecting with crew to obtain permission for use.”

Oh really? Well, I quickly send back, “It’s interesting you mention asking for permission because I was not contacted whatsoever for the use of this photo. If credit for my work can’t be given, then I kindly ask my photo be removed from this account. Thank you.”

They did not delete the photo or respond to my DM, instead, they just updated the caption.

Oh, no. I started to feel taken advantage of, so I reach out again. “I appreciate the edit that was made… again, I was not contacted for permission…if it is to remain on this account, I request proper credit.”

Then the photo was deleted, with no response to my DM. Well, I was still a little butt hurt so I tell them about it, “I’m really disappointed with how this was handled. I was so excited to share my content and I know the main DCL account gives credit where credit is due…If we, as crew, are willing to share and tag this account, it’s really just common courtesy and I’m surprised that whoever is managing this account isn’t asking for permission.”

A day goes by, they’ve read my message & have not responded but I’m still upset. I messaged them once again and asked for contact info for who I could speak to since IG was not the appropriate place for this conversation any longer. I was actually just interested in getting clarification on the policy of not allowing them to tag crew.

Again, no response, but seen.

To Disney’s credit, when I reached out to a few of my fellow crew members, whose photos I had seen on the DCL Jobs account, to see if their photos were also used with/out permission, and a few of them did say they were asked if Disney could use their photos. However, there were still a couple of crew members that weren’t and their photos are still on the DCL Jobs account at the time of writing this. A few of my friends did say they didn’t really mind if their photos were used without permission, and that’s totally fine. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m all for sharing the love and getting featured on other accounts if the conditions are right. In any situation involving more than one person, communication is key and in my opinion, this situation devolved very quickly due to lack of that basic communication. I won’t pretend to know how that account is managed and by who. Had whoever I was corresponding with showed a little more care or empathy for the situation, as all Cast Members are trained to do, I wouldn’t have felt the need to exacerbate the situation. I recognize at the end of the day, none of this was worth getting upset over.

The moral of the story, if you’re a brand and you have loyal followers who sing your praise, always ask for permission to use their content. It’s not hard.

TLDR; The DCL Instagram account stole my photo and refused to give me credit.

Thanks for reading & drink more water


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Raisa Lynn

As an experienced freelance copywriter and web content writer, I help businesses and brands find their voice, tell their story and spread their message, using copy that engages, informs, persuades, motivates, challenges, provokes and entertains.

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