Instagram wants the right to sell your photos [UPDATE]

by , Technology Researcher Technology 18 December 2012
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Instagram has changed its terms of service, much to the anger of its users. In the new terms the photo-sharing site has the right to licence your photos to other companies without telling you…

Instagram image

When Instagram’s new rules come into effect on 16 January, the photo-sharing site will be able to sell your photos to advertisers. Whether they’re photos of your cat or your kids, you won’t have to be told nor will you be given any money if Instagram decides to sell them. The term reads:

‘To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.’

You can only opt-out of this by deleting your Instagram account before 16 January 2013.

Does Instagram really want to sell your photos?

Now, I’m personally not a fan of Instagram – I don’t really see why ruining a good photo by colouring it in a vague tinge of brown makes it artistic. Nonetheless, this kind of thing still really riles me up.

Firstly, it’s not really clear whether Instagram will ever use these terms for anything practical. No company in its right mind would want to use my wobbly, ham-fisted photos in its ads, for example. And Instagram itself suggests that these new terms could provide better features. However, there are probably still talented Instagram photographers hiding somewhere, and I doubt they’d be happy with the site’s new terms.

What’s particularly worrying is that Instagram’s own blog post says that ‘nothing has changed about your photos’ ownership’. Would you feel like the owner of your photos if they could be sold to another company? I’m sure you’d feel even more bitter if there was no payment nor any reference to you, the creator. So the question arises – will you turn your back on Instagram?

[UPDATE 19/12/2012] - In response to the backlash, Instagram will be amending its terms. Kevin Systrom, Instagram’s co-founder, clarify’s the company’s position:

‘To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.

‘The language we proposed also raised question about whether your photos can be part of an advertisement. We do not have plans for anything like this and because of that we’re going to remove the language that raised the question.

‘Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos. Nothing about this has changed. We respect that there are creative artists and hobbyists alike that pour their heart into creating beautiful photos, and we respect that your photos are your photos. Period.’

8 comments

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william

I’m just glad I never got involved with instagram, I too, am not a fan of the effects you can doctor you photos with. One celeb I follow on Twitter only created her instagram account a few days ago, she’s now deleted it. I can see many others doing the same, which may make instagram’s parent company facebook try the same stunt with facebook. Now that would be the final nail in them changing things to my disadvantage.

Looks like Instagram has backtracked and Tim was right that they didn’t really intend to use the right in the way it was written:

‘Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.

‘The language we proposed also raised question about whether your photos can be part of an advertisement. We do not have plans for anything like this and because of that we’re going to remove the language that raised the question. Our main goal is to avoid things likes advertising banners you see in other apps that would hurt the Instagram user experience. Instead, we want to create meaningful ways to help you discover new and interesting accounts and content while building a self-sustaining business at the same time.

‘Ownership Rights: Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos. Nothing about this has changed. We respect that there are creative artists and hobbyists alike that pour their heart into creating beautiful photos, and we respect that your photos are your photos. Period.’

http://blog.instagram.com/post/38252135408/thank-you-and-were-listening

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Stephen

Not a user of Instagram, but I am bemused by this turn-round by the company and the explanation offered.

The orginal language was crystal clear – seems to me they have changed their minds given the rumpus it caused.

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william

I wonder if Instagram had outsourced their legal department. As this is a classic example of the sort of thing if you do and don’t manage it properly.

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dieseltaylor

It was a try-on and they got caught. Only a complete idiot would equate the published clause to be anything other than what it purported to say. I think they should have slipped it in nearer Christmas = so on two counts they are inept.!

Which? perhaps ought to consider that not all social media sites are worthy of support and perhaps do a plain English guide to the ones it supports. It would be helpful to people like myself who are extremely wary .

BTW Instagram used by children forments riots in Sweden. Cute example of social media abuse.
http://www.thelocal.se/45142/20121218/#.UNGrg65ggcU

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chay

one the main issues they would of had would be if someone had taken a picture of a celebrity or an item that is copyrighted and uploaded it to their account. Then instagram went on to sell this image I think that could open a whole minefield for them in lawsuits.

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wavechange

Thanks for the update. Facebook (the owners of Instagram) has a long way to go to command much respect from some of us, but on this occasion they deserve thanks for their prompt action.

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db

Not even tatamount to theft BUT THEFT pure and simple
Even the cloud could do this, with all possibilty of non detection
What are copyright laws for, if not to challenge the internet scheming fraudsters, who fleece people, for the ability to do, what they cannot

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