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Instagram Wants To Sell Users' Photos Without Notice 313

DavidGilbert99 writes "Many Instagram users have reacted angrily to a proposed change to the apps terms of service by owner Facebook, which would give the social network 'perpetual' rights to all photos on Instagram, allowing it to sell the photos to advertisers without notice — or payment to the user. The new policy will come into effect on 16 January, just four months after Facebook completed its $1bn acquisition of Instagram. It states that Facebook has a right to distribute any content posted on Instagram without paying the user royalties:" Also worth reading Declan McCullagh's take on it.
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Instagram Wants To Sell Users' Photos Without Notice

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  • by yakovlev ( 210738 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @10:03AM (#42324837) Homepage
    I saw this yesterday, and was shocked. This is effectively stealing all users' photos that have been uploaded thus far, and a pretty sleazy thing to do even for new users. If I was an instagram user, my first action after seeing this would be to delete my account. There is almost nothing instagram could offer me that would be worth giving them this kind of free control over all of my photos.

    The privacy implications for photos containing people is even more staggering. I doubt most people on instagram have current model releases for their photographs, so using these commercially could get any number of people sued, but based on the instagram policy, it very well could be the user who took them initially, then "gave instagram permission to use them commercially."

    I would expect this policy to change, but if it doesn't by January 5 or so, I would suggest all instagram users delete their accounts. Also, if it doesn't change by then, watch out for Facebook's terms to change to something similar.
  • Re:Instagram Bubble (Score:5, Interesting)

    by noh8rz10 ( 2716597 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @10:07AM (#42324885)
    Tis is the death of instant ram. No way any celebrities will allow Facebook to profit from their likenesses. Without Bieber, Selena Gomez, and even Playboy Bunnies [] (link is sfw), there will be nobody driving the service from the top, and the twihards etc will follow their idols to a new platform. Twitter pics for example? Classic Facebook blunder.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @10:12AM (#42324955)

    Except loss making Internet scam Facebook, has the details of who your close friends, not so close friends, relatives and enemies are. Of those, you may only have Instagram'd your photo to your close friends, but the rest would pay to see it, particularly your unfrienermies.

    Facebook recently stopped letting Instagram photos be posted around freely, starting with Twitter. So it's only a matter of time before they sell access to your photos. The only people interested are friends, former friends and stalkers who didn't receive it. Since most people have their privacy rights changed by Facebook without them knowing it, they don't know Facebook has probably already given themselves the rights to show those photos outside your account, unless you press button Z twice on page broken link.

    Facebook recently started selling 'adverts', so if you have money and want to send information to your following friends, you need to pay or they won't see it. In effect it is selling you the relationship you made and it broke. This is the flip side of that.

    You see that it's not about selling photos to random people, because random people aren't interested in how drunk you were at a bar last night. Your boss on the other hand.. Your wife... Your angry ex-unfriended girlfriend. Or even for that matter your mum, who you decided didn't really need to see that, but FB knows she wants to look anyway.

  • by Splab ( 574204 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @10:13AM (#42324957)

    Better make sure you have permission from subjects in the picture, else you could very well find yourself on the wrong side of a lawsuit, since it's your responsibility to make sure your models are paid for published work.

  • Re:Stockphotos (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @10:14AM (#42324973)

    A second section allows Facebook to charge money. It says that "a business or other entity may pay us to display your... photos... in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you." That language does not exist in the current terms of use.

    This reminds me of the Judge Judy case where a promoter used a young woman's semi-provocative facebook pictures on flyers to advertise a new strip joint.

  • by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @10:17AM (#42325011) Journal

    No, they won't own them.
    In the EU terms of services like this are void.
    And I would guess also in the US such terms would contradict copyright laws ...
    In the EU an author needs to be compensated for his work. General terms like that are void.

  • by Intrepid imaginaut ( 1970940 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @10:21AM (#42325057)

    They can already do 1) and 2) is not going to happen, its just too loaded with pitfalls. Dave was going for his mother's funeral, whoops, lawsuit. I don't think people appreciate the demand for even low quality stock photos out there.

    Instagram has apparently a billion odd photos uploaded. Lets say that optimistically 1% of those are saleable at all. That's 10 million photos, now lets say 10% of those earn a dollar a month in sales between them, that's a million bucks a month. Not too shabby, and quite possible, one photo in a thousand earning a dollar a month. That they'd have to do it for around a century just to break even is beside the point, I've no idea what the hell they were thinking spending that much money on a photo upload service in the first place.

    Still, its an all round scummy move by facebook and probably illegal too. Maybe if they offered an opt-in profit sharing system instead, or something, that might be good.

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @10:41AM (#42325285)

    I doubt most people on instagram have current model releases for their photographs, so using these commercially could get any number of people sued, but based on the instagram policy, it very well could be the user who took them initially, then "gave instagram permission to use them commercially."

    from the new policy:

    you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your ... photos

    I grew up in a semi-pro photography household and learning by osmosis I can tell you this is a horrifying legal minefield for anyone who doesn't have well documented model releases.

    Its exactly like a photo processor reserving the right to sell your photos to anyone they want if you develop film there, or a word processor author demanding the right to sell anything you type into the word processor to anyone they want. Crazy talk.

    I recognize you're using language so as not to be convicted of practicing law without a license, and I'm not a lawyer either, but it seems very obvious that you'd be absolutely insane to upload a pic of any human being other than yourself unless you've got signed model releases for unlimited unrestricted distribution.

    Its an interesting display of how technology sometimes creates minefields. If it cost my dad $1K or whatever worth of film and processing to make a file cabinet full of railroad industry stock footage photos, his adjacent filing cabinet full of model releases (mostly RR employees, some railfans, some museum visitors) and MOUs signed by corporate officers, etc, etc were worth at least $1K because they are what made his $1K of film stock worth $2K+ in the adjacent 3rd filing cabinet full of contracts to RR and model RR marketing/PR depts selling individual stock railroad photos. Now, with new technology you can make the equivalent of $1K worth of stock photos for "free" and you don't even need the fireproof film negative cabinet to store them, but rather than making it easier to be a semi-pro photographer all you're really going to do is get yourself sued into bankruptcy after not earning a penny of revenue. I don't think that's genuine progress and it seems the inevitable result of the new policy.

  • Re:Instagram Bubble (Score:5, Interesting)

    by j00r0m4nc3r ( 959816 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @10:42AM (#42325287)
    Scarier yet, once this is all automated the advertisement might show up within minutes after taking the picture, while you're still at the restaurant.
  • by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @10:46AM (#42325345)
    You are compensated for your work in that you are able to use Instagram and Facebook without making any monetary payment.

    I agree that this is utterly shitty, but it's more than likely totally legal in both the US and the UK. You use their hosting space for free, they use your pictures in their marketing. If you don't like it set up your own website, on your own dime, and post copyright notices for all of the images. You have the choice to not use Facebook, Instagram, Google, or any other service for which you disagree with the Terms of Use. Yes, there are protections (Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations, for example) but I doubt any court will see that as applicable here.
  • Agreed. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Andy Prough ( 2730467 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @10:57AM (#42325455)
    The SHOCKING thing would be if FB did NOT do this.
  • Re:Instagram Bubble (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @11:15AM (#42325621)

    What celeb actually uses their twitter or instagram?

    90% of them pay someone else to manage their "direct connection" with their fans.

    Another one of poetmatt's greatest hits!

    Clearly, you're aware that some (at least 10% of them, by your count) DO "actually use their twitter or instagram."

    So why don't YOU tell US what celebs actually use their twitter or instagram? You seem very knowledgeable - it's not as if someone can just invent meaningless bogus statistics out of thin air! That never happens. Well, not more than, like, 3% of the time, tops.


  • Re:Instagram Bubble (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Americano ( 920576 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @11:28AM (#42325731)

    Riiiiight. Instagram is going to hire marketing people whose sole job is to scan through the photo streams of literally tens of millions of active users to find the "absolutely killer" photos you took at Applebee's last week, and propose a worldwide marketing campaign featuring YOUR photos, showing how badly-lit, badly-focused, poorly dressed, average-to-downright-ugly people get down with some Jalapeno Poppers, Loaded Fiesta Nachos, and Shrimp Slammers in grainy cell phone images.

    Except that would be the worst business idea ever.

    What's going to happen is, Applebee's is going to make an ad buy on Facebook - "We're opening a new restaurant in Bohunk, Iowa. We'd like to target people ages 21-50 in the area with the news, and let them know we have a special "$17 dollar SUMMER SHRIMP SLAMMER SPECIAL!" Facebook & Instagram, when targeting you for the ad, will find people in your network who have taken photos at other Applebee's (geo-tagged, or checked-in, or #-tagged, likes, +1's, etc.), and put an ad using a photo of your friend, Mike, (or maybe one he took at Applebee's some unfortunate evening), with ad copy saying, "Your friend Mike loves Applebee's too! Why not get together at our new Bohunk location, and enjoy our new $17 SUMMER SHRIMP SLAMMER SPECIAL?!"

  • Re:Stockphotos (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RazorSharp ( 1418697 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @11:33AM (#42325791)

    I'd much rather they nicked my spur-of-the-moment snaps than used me to defraud lonely and desperate people.

    I know. I mean, it's so unfair that these lonely and desperate people might see a picture of my sexy ass, which will prompt them to sign up for some crappy dating site. Then they'll spend hours and hours searching for my profile on the dating site to no avail. It's not easy being sexy, everyone's always looking to exploit me.

    In all seriousness, this probably explains why FB was willing to fork over so much cash for Instagram. While it's good that they actually had a plan in place to monetize their purchase, the plan itself is very objectionable. I'm sure their lawyers found some way to make it legal, but I find this practice unsettling. It seems unethical. Even if it's not, I'm sure many of their users wouldn't approve. The sad thing is most will never know.

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.