Tell us what you think about Instagram's new 'screw you' policy

If you're planning to Instagram lots of photos this holiday, think again. They might be in next year's commercial marketing -- your embarrassing candid plastered on billboards everywhere -- and you have no real say about it. Big companies use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 to keep you from sharing stuff. Instragram takes away such recourse for you, overnight announcing one of the biggest rights policy changes of the contextual cloud computing era. The photo-sharing site claims the right to sell your content, offering you absolutely no compensation for the privilege.

The change is snakey sneaky: "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", but "Instagram Content is protected by copyright, trademark, patent, trade secret and other laws, and, as between you and Instagram, Instagram owns and retains all rights in the Instagram Content and the Service". You give up your rights to ownership simply by using the service, which gives you nothing.


Ah, yes, the benefits of Facebook ownership and the squirrely, ever-changing policies. In April, the social network announced Instagram's acquisition, for $1 billion, and closed the deal three months ago. The new owner flexed its authority overnight, by announcing rights to use your stuff, starting January 16. "Bah! Humbug!" to you, too, Mark Zuckerberg. What do you say? Is Facebook's CEO Scrooge or Grinch, or the smartest tech leader since Bill Gates, who in the 1980s convinced IBM to license rather than buy MS-DOS and in the 1990s got OEMs to pay for DOS/Windows whether or not PCs shipped with it?

Instagram's early coal in the stocking doesn't stop with claiming rights to profit from your stuff: "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...You acknowledge that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such".

The service has lots of photos to sell, having reached 1 billion uploaded in April and claiming 5 million-plus per day, which adds at least 500 million to the pool. Facebook already profits from lots of free content people post everyday. But it's one thing to wrap advertising around your content and something altogether different to incorporate your stuff into ads without permission or compensation.

Early User Reaction

Instagram announced the changes on its Tumblr, where the rebloggers are furious. Instagram claims: "Nothing has changed about your photos’ ownership or who can see them". The Sane Tumblr responds: "Really? Nothing has changed? I don’t recall granting a non-exclusive royalty-free license to you to sell my pictures to advertisers. Sorry, but I’m not 'feeling comfortable sharing your beautiful photos on Instagram' with that change".

Meat Sauce for Snappy: "What a misleading post. Ownership rights have changed, if Instagram/Facebook are suddenly granting themselves an unlimited license to use photos for commercial use". "If they’re going to sell our photos without letting us know, GOOD BYE INSTAGRAM on January 15th", LAM3 answers.

Peter Bergers: "Alright, Instagram, nice to have known you! Bye, bye! Not angry, because you’re about to sell the pictures of users, but angry about that you don’t even ask".

Over at Google+, #instagram is the top-trending topic this morning. There Brian Medeiros asks: "So who is actually uninstalling #instagram today and who is just bitching? Been thinking about it since they killed twitter".

Shawn Drape answers: "I'm actively backing up my Instagram photos now in preparation of deleting the account. I draw a line between being advertised to and being advertised with. I'd feel a bit different if their TOS was more specific on how your content could be used but since it is this open ended I've got issues with it".

Jeremy Hodges: "With all the mass-deleting of #Instagram accounts, I am almost sorry I didn't open one so I could join the fun of deleting it". Yes, but is there mass-deleting going on?

That's one of the questions for you. I ask what you will or won't do about the new Instagram policy. Please take the poll above and respond in comments below. What do you think about the new policy and how you will respond to it?

12 Responses to Tell us what you think about Instagram's new 'screw you' policy

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