Instagram Likes You SO Much They Reserve the Right To Sell YouJulia Gazdag

So Instagram has new terms of service, which already has a lot of people running for the hills (or, I guess, the rooftops or something. I don’t know, it’s mostly flatland around here). Unless it’s always been your lifelong ambition to be an unpaid stock photographer, Instagram may no longer be for you come January 16, 2013, when the new terms go into effect.

New terms, section 1 under “Rights”:

“Instagram does not claim ownership of any Content that you post on or through the Service. Instead, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service, except that you can control who can view certain of your Content and activities on the Service as described in the Service’s Privacy Policy”

Basically, Instagram can sell your photos, for profit, without having to consult you, let alone give you a dividend of said profits. This doesn’t mean that the photos you take of every meal you eat ever (seriously, stop) are going to start showing up in Healthy Choice ads, but in theory, they could, and that principle in and of itself is alarming. Also, I can only assume they have some kind of plan in mind that led to their implementation of these new terms, which makes me uncomfortable.

Section 2 under “Rights”:

“Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you. If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to this provision (and the use of your name, likeness, username, and/or photos (along with any associated metadata)) on your behalf.”

Just like Facebook, which now owns Instagram, every piece of information Instagram has about you is up for grabs to anyone they choose to sell it to. They can sell data about you to advertising companies doing market research, or for any other reason. Remember privacy? Cherish those memories.

Section 3 under “Rights”:

“You acknowledge that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such.”

They owe you nothing, down to not having to say a single word about exploiting you, ever.

Section 4 under “Rights”

“You represent and warrant that: (i) you own the Content posted by you on or through the Service or otherwise have the right to grant the rights and licenses set forth in these Terms of Use; (ii) the posting and use of your Content on or through the Service does not violate, misappropriate or infringe on the rights of any third party, including, without limitation, privacy rights, publicity rights, copyrights, trademark and/or other intellectual property rights; (iii) you agree to pay for all royalties, fees, and any other monies owed by reason of Content you post on or through the Service; and (iv) you have the legal right and capacity to enter into these Terms of Use in your jurisdiction.”

Basically, you own all of your photos, except that since you’re using Instagram, you’re willingly giving them all the rights to them. Unless you take a picture of something with a trademarked logo, Instagram sells it and then gets sued for using the logo without permission – then you have to take the fall. So… yeah, your photos are technically yours, but Instagram gets all the benefits and if s**t gets real, it’s all on you.

The new terms of service go into effect on January 16th, and if you do not delete your account by then, any content in it is vulnerable. This includes content deleted after January 16th, as Instagram also reserves the right to create backups and use them as they choose to, even after you have taken it down.

Really, Instagram? You couldn’t have just come out with a pro version and added a couple of new filters or something? You can make money on a phone app without exploiting your users’ content, you know. The updated policy is already making tons of people extremely unhappy and wary of continuing to use Instagram. It’s unreasonable to think that any service should be free while using up resources. This one, however, shows a complete disregard for the personal usage benefits that made it so popular in the first place, as well as for the privacy of users themselves. You have to respect your customer base in order to maintain a good relationship – or any at all.

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  1. I’d gladly pay $0.99 for this app that I love so much if it being free is that much of an issue.

  2. They have just announced on the news that Instagram is not going to sell peoples photos anymore. Facebook sent out a message that protects photos and makes them legally yours so that no one can copy/sell them.

  3. Instagram sucks anyway. “OOOOOH, LET ME JUST TURN ON MY SEPIA FILTER AND MAKE THIS PLATE OF DOG SHIT LOOK AMAZING!”

  4. Have you seen the response Instagram posted on their blog?
    http://blog.instagram.com/post/38252135408/thank-you-and-were-listening

    • I’m sorry to post a link to another blog – but it seems really relevant to the conversation. If you need to delete the comment, I understand, but let’s keep the conversation going so we can fully understand what Instagram is trying to do.

  5. I think Facebook does the same, right?

  6. Please someone, send this to Facebook. They should not be allowed to do this.

  7. I totally agree that it’s still problematic in many ways, I’m just saying it’s one solution to one part of the issue :)

    • I mean, I get what you’re saying, though I don’t think it’s really a solution.

    • Oh, well i’m glad for this “solution” especially since my account is already private..

      It just shows how big companies will do anything to take avantage of everything. It’s pretty sad.

  8. you’re* (quoting)

  9. Hey there, just to point out something I just saw on Twitter. The next sentence in the first thing you quoting from the TOS is: “except Content not shared publicly (“private”) will not be distributed outside the Instagram Services.”
    So basically if you set your account to private it settles the problem (for now). Just thought I’d share.

    • Pretty problematic for companies that use Instagram for marketing, because the volume of requests for a private account can be staggering. Which also means that content belonging to companies, not individuals, is up for grabs in the same way, if it’s public.

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