The popular photo filter and sharing app Instagram updated its use policies Monday with a provision that has users up in arms: It can sell user photos without paying or telling them.
One user Clayton Cubitt has called it "Instagram's suicide note."
The updated Terms of Service includes the following (Editor's note: emphasis added):
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.
A photo like this was filtered using Instagram. It shows a racegoer during the Crown Oaks Day at Flemington Racecourse on November 8, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
CNET reported Electronic Frontier Foundation senior staff attorney Kurt Opsahl dissecting what this means, saying "it's asking people to agree to unspecified future commercial use of their photos."
Not only are users upset that they wouldn't be compensated for photos of theirs that are sold, but there are privacy implications as well. As CNET puts it, what if there were children in the photo of beautiful Waikiki beach that was sold to a resort without the parent's permission?
In its blog post, Instagram wrote the changes are effective as of Jan. 16, so users have until then to delete their account or be subject to the new agreement. Many have said they want to do just that:
And Wired wrote up a quick how-to to help users download their photos and delete accounts:
First you’ll want to download all of your photos. Instaport will download your entire Instagram photo library in just a few minutes. Currently the service only offers a zip file download of your photos, although direct export to Flickr and Facebook are in the works.
After you’ve removed your photos from Instagram, you can quickly delete your account and pretend you’ve never even heard of Lo-Fi filter.
Word of warning though, once you delete your account, you will not be able to reactivate it or establish it again in the same name.
Gizmodo too makes some valid points as to why it believes fans should stop whining about the new measures:
What none of these hair-pulling photo-sharing apocalypse-moaners neglect to mention is that Instagram's a business. A business that charges nothing for something that millions of people use constantly.
So it has three options.
Instagram can charge you to download it, in which case, nobody will download it anymore.
Instagram can charge you a subscription to use it, in which case everyone who has downloaded it will stop using it.
Or, Instagram can figure out a way to license the throwaway pictures you capture with 90 seconds of mental activity throughout the day, because it's not a photographic non-profit, and needs some way of keeping its meager staff of ten people from being evicted.
Gawker reported Samford University Law School professor Woodrow Hartzog saying Instagram does need to establish some copyright control over its user's photos, but he added "it is fair to question the scope of many of these terms as potentially outside of the realm of what is required to operate. It's no secret that users rarely read and understand these terms, so companies have little incentive to draft user-friendly agreements."
In August, Facebook purchased Instagram for (insert Dr. Evil's voice from Austin Powers) $1 billion.