THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS | A PRO PHOTO & VIDEO BLOG

The End of the World … for Instagram?

Posted in News, Photography by annakfischer on December 18, 2012

ImageInstagram released new terms of service yesterday, heralding what could be the beginning of the end of the Instagram age, at least among photographers who value ownership of their images. Pro photographer’s like Ben Lowy and Ed Kashi who’ve championed the service and helped it explode into the behemoth of the photo sharing world.  

The terms of service are lengthy but the especially disconcerting bits are excerpted below (italics mine):

“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.”

“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.”

To summarize the salient points:

1) Instagram now has rights to all the images you publish through its service.

2) Instagram can sell these images without your knowledge or consent.

3) This includes photos of minors.

The only way to opt out for already existing content and future work is to delete your account.

This isn’t the first rights grab we’ve seen from internet image hosting services. Back in May 2011, the then ubiquitous TwitPic underwent a similar change in terms of service. One that lead to its rapid decline

With Facebook heavily promoting the dearly bought social network to its users, we’re more likely to see a slow fade then a sharp decline, if anything. But as more services offer retro filters and streamline their mobile apps, we could see an erosion among Instagram’s savvier users.

We’re already seeing reactions from the press. The New York Times and CBS posted ominous, Dateline-style “are your kids safe” angled consumer pieces. That’s certainly valid, but we’re more concerned with working photographers’ intellectual property.

This speaks to the larger trend of Facebook’s long history of privacy violations and terms-of-use overreach. Now Instagram is the next vehicle for its information reselling business model. 

Relations between Twitter and Instagram have soured in recent weeks, with Instagram cutting its rival out of its service completely.  Twitter responded by adding its own robust photo filter and editing features. They are no doubt giddy at the latest news. They couldn’t have asked for a better holiday gift than Instagram’s right’s grab.

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