After a major backlash from users and after more than 9,000 people signed Jennifer's petition on Change.org, Instagram announced they will revise their Terms of Service.
I consider this only a partial victory because while some parts have been revised, others remain the same. I was hoping that with these new TOS Instagram would strive to provide a more straightforward service to their users but they don't. Instagram claims that they do not plan to sell your photos in their statement but they still have kept the paragraph that gives them the right to sub-license your images without any compensation to you in their TOS. It is up to you to decide if you believe what they say in their statement letter or not but, as a photographer, I have decided to stop using instagram because that paragraph doesn't make me feel safe.
I said that I consider this a partial victory and I do so because in the last three of days we have learned that we can fight for what we think is right and be heard. It is not necessary for us to accept what is thrown at us by large companies. We are the ones who make these websites work by providing them with content, and without us they could not function or exist. It is because of this that we should be the ones defining what can and can't be done with our information, files and pictures. We have just started to make that change and I hope that we will all keep on fighting to make this a standard."
***UPDATE*** Instagram released a statement yesterday in which they promised to revise their TOS. I am hoping that their new TOS will be more respectful towards their users but, until then, I want to ask you to keep on spreading the word and get people to sign this petition. Let our voice be heard loud and clear: our work is ours and it is not yours to sell.
Instagram just published their new terms and conditions stating that they would become effective on 01/16/13. The announcement was made today in a small rectangle that was featured at the top of the news section.
I work as a professional photographer and I am aware of facebook's privacy and copyright policies. It is because of this that I decided to take my time to read Instagram's new policies.
On closer inspection I discovered two paragraphs that, as an author and friend of many different authors that make a living out of selling their images, didn't seem right.
Here they are:
2. 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 second paragraph states that any of the images you might post on instagram could be used for advertising and that they can also use your name and personal information for this purpose. When you see other people's content displayed as advertising, you may, or may not know if it is a paid advertising.
The first paragraph states what I find most shocking: that you grant them the right license your images. This means that instagram could take a picture you have shot and posted on their app, sell it to another company and that company could use it for whatever they wanted: advertising, print, TV, etc. It also means that instagram doesn't have to ask you for permission to do so and, what is worse, that they will charge the company for buying your image but you, the photographer, won't get paid for its use.
As a photographer I find these terms abusive. I am upset that after using instagram for more than two years I am forced to make a choice between letting them take over the rights to my work or leaving the online community I have grown so fond of. But I know now that if these terms become effective, I will leave instagram without a second thought.
It is because of this that I ask instagram to respect their users and revise their terms and conditions in order to let each of them decide if their work can be licensed and used under these conditions or not.