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Instagram responds to clamor around TOS changes

79
Instagram stirred up concerns amongst its users after updating its terms of service yesterday.

Instagram says isn't going to sell your images and is now recalling the phrasing it released yesterday which seemed to say just that. 

Instagram has updated its blog with a post from co-founder Kevin Systrom that attempts to soothe concerns that the social photo-sharing service was about to start selling users' images.

Systrom writes:

"Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear."

The reworded terms of service language that caused the uproar specifically stated: "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."

But Instagram's latest response seems to compare its intentions to an advertising model akin to Facebook, which just officially completed its aquisition of Instagram three months ago. Systrom explained that a potential scenario:

"Let’s say a business wanted to promote their account to gain more followers and Instagram was able to feature them in some way. In order to help make a more relevant and useful promotion, it would be helpful to see which of the people you follow also follow this business. In this way, some of the data you produce — like the actions you take (eg, following the account) and your profile photo — might show up if you are following this business."

Instagram's new policies are set to go into effect 30 days from now, and Systrom claims the service will spend that time rephrasing them. 

Comments

Total comments: 79
KodaChrome25

People, this is all smoke and mirrors. The part of the ToS they're hiding with this smokescreen is that you can't sue them. So no matter what they do, you have no recourse.

0 upvotes
Tord S Eriksson

Facebook is bad enough when it comes to the rights of your shots, so beware of Instagram's backtracking - is it not their inner self they displayed just days ago?! Their lawyers must have OK-ed that text, things like that doesn't accidentally end up on their site, not in a million years!

And now they see their money disappearing, fast, so deny, deny, deny! Say whatever, think about your income, boys!

And FB come on - are you as money-greedy as your Instagram cronies?!

I trust FlickeR, that's as far as I trust online services!

0 upvotes
glossywhite

Hey folks, here's a revelation, contained in a SIMPLE rule:

If you want CONTROL of your photographs, don't BLINDLY and NAIVELY trust any shots to some faceless online entity. Quite simple really, noone held a gun to your noggins, after all.

Who's "to blame"? Instagoof. Who's the fools for trusting them? Sheeples.

3 upvotes
glossywhite

My LTL 3 and OM10 don't seem to have any network connections or cr(app)y extras, so I think I'm all clear ;)

1 upvote
CharlesB58

FB already has the controversial terms in their policy for IP content. Their IP policy says: "You grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This is almost the exact same verbiage that got Instagram into trouble with users.

0 upvotes
GodSpeaks

Isn't it wonderful what a little bit of bad press can do?

1 upvote
GregMcD

Am I the only one that sees this as a test for FB to do the same with the images we post their. They have been looking for a profit engine for FB since going public. Instagram has a fraction of the images that FB has. Since FB owns Instagram, this is a perfect test case to see if this can be done and what the effect would be. Considering the backlash, I don't think FB will be trying this soon, but it makes sense.

0 upvotes
docd69

Deleted. And now Streamzoo....... Facebook is next......

Comment edited 22 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Midwest

I suspect they got busted trying to slip a fast one by the users.

2 upvotes
plasnu

Corporate America

1 upvote
zerostudio

too little too late. the loss of users was well deserved.

4 upvotes
baldwincc6

so what is this? should or should we not trust instagram? should i close my account?

0 upvotes
samhain

Instagram= corporate sellout sluts. 0% artistic credibility.
When it first launched it was really cool. 'Popular' images were popular for a reason- they were really good photos. Now- it's a teeny-bop & sales/marketing circus sideshow.
Good riddance IG.

3 upvotes
JDThomas

Let's see where your "artistic credibility" goes when someone dangles $1,000,000,000 in front of you.

8 upvotes
GregMcD

I kind of agree with you there JD. This is more on Facebook than Instagram.

0 upvotes
JDThomas

I'd sell facebook full and total copyright of every image I've ever shot for $1 billion dollars. Sellout? Hell yeah.

0 upvotes
papparazzi

Too little too late, my account is closed!

4 upvotes
sproketholes

Rewording it to make it the same but harder to understand.

7 upvotes
samhain
0 upvotes
Sannaborjeson

Well...

And what about horrible design of current versions?
I would really appreciate to get sneakers back, and the lovely old filters.

Now live filtering has gone so there is no need in simplified algorithms (I mean those introduced in v2.0 and widely criticised).

0 upvotes
klopus

Are people still use IG's limited filters that even lack simplest strength/blending control? That only makes most images to have same boring look and feel. Every good photog I follow doesn't use stock IG filters. There's even a #nofilters movement.

0 upvotes
Peter K Burian

Apparently, they are backing off their original position but it's probably too late. Too many people -- and organizations such as National Geographic -- no longer trust Instagram. They will close their accounts and remove their photos. I don't know what Facebook paid to buy Instagram, but they just destroyed the value of their investment. See http://www.theverge.com/2012/12/18/3782526/national-geographic-suspends-instagram-account

3 upvotes
klopus

Facebook paid cool $1B for Instagram. Reportedly Google was offering "just" $550K.

0 upvotes
glossywhite

Hope they kept their receipt. $1BN for something ethereal that doesn't "exist" - I'd rather donate that to starving children.

0 upvotes
JadedGamer

Well, much of the payment was ethereal too, in the form of stock. :) In fact, because of fluctuations the price ended up lower than the initial billion.

0 upvotes
harley13
3 upvotes
mpgxsvcd

Isn't that a copyright infringement?

4 upvotes
ChristopherKnapp

"To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear."

Right, so please explain how this is different from intending to sell the photos without compensation?

I don't care if it is your intention or not, whether you do it or not is much more important.

1 upvote
Rage Joe

" it is not our intention to sell your photos"

Yeah, but then came the guy and offered us some good cash, so we had to, "without any compensation to you" as you agreed., but that was not our intention really.

2 upvotes
D Lynch

Too little. Too late.

2 upvotes
Rob

OK, I'll trust them now that they've back pedaled..... NOT!

0 upvotes
JEROME NOLAS

InstaNazis...

4 upvotes
aja2

So glad I never bought into FB, Instagram, & all that. Saves me the trouble of trying to extricate myself from their grip.

4 upvotes
ArneMarco

I closed my account today ...

5 upvotes
whertha

too late; the app is deleted. it's time companies stop trying to test-market policy changes just to see what they can get away with and then claim mea culpa later. Have they no legal advice or do they not understand the impact or have the made a business calculation? None sound good.

11 upvotes
KAllen

Funny how this keeps happening. When they word these agreements don't they employ legal professionals?
They are working on if you keep banging at a door it will either fall in or someone will open it.
They know exactly what they are doing.
Parasites everyone of them, there are people that actually believe social sites are for free, just because they don't charge you up front.

1 upvote
rondhamalam

http://howto.cnet.com/8301-11310_39-57559810-285/how-to-back-up-your-instagram-photos-and-delete-your-account/

1 upvote
casey_lee

Um, what is Instagram?

2 upvotes
Oliver Lang

You look lost! Here, click this link: http://www.dpreview.com/

2 upvotes
slimandy

I just closed my account. What a shame they sold out to Facebook.

1 upvote
Dvlee

This issue does not address the question of model releases. When we post images of people on instagram and facebook, we do so under the assumption that the images are only being posted for personal usage...sharing with others, and not for commercial usage.

If facebook uses any image of people for promotional purposes, they are doing so without model releases.

The facebook/instagram terms of service do not require that users have model releases from all persons whose likenesses are posted on those services. They cannot absolve themselves of the liability, or transfer the responsibility for releases onto the persons who posted the pictures for non commercial use. The user(photographer) owns the copyright to the image but if the person in the photo has not signed a release neither facebook/Instagram nor the user has the right to assume or grant permission for the use of their likeness for commercial purposes.

2 upvotes
Deleted pending purge

"This issue does not address the question of model releases. When we post images of people on instagram and facebook, we do so under the assumption that the images are only being posted for personal usage...sharing with others, and not for commercial usage."

Not so, I'm afraid. When you post a person's image it is assumed you have that person's permission to do so (e.g. you are able to produce a model release if asked to do so... as, per court order, for instance, if that person decides to sue). Internet is a public medium, but it does not protect you the way some newshouse will be able to protect their employed photographers / reporters.

"If facebook uses any image of people for promotional purposes, they are doing so without model releases."

... but if someone sues for unauthorised publishing of their photo, facebook is very likely to name their source of the offending photo, claiming that all rights have been presumed in the posession of the author.
It's pretty tricky sometimes.

0 upvotes
bustback

OldArrow – that is incorrect. Model Release has a specific set of laws associated with it. The company or business using the image for commercial purposes is 100% responsible for obtaining the model release. The photographer is not liable.

In this case, if Instagram used the likeness to support their own business they will be required, by law, to get a model/talent release. If they sell advertising and and the likeness of someone is used with that advertiser, they are now liable to get the model/talent release.

The legal aspects are very clear here – whoever uses the image for commercial gain/purposes is liable and is required to get a release. There is no set of terms/conditions that Instagram could ever enact that will make this go away for them.

Comment edited 33 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
marianco

Instagram is DEAD. What wacko and predator will now get hold of your and your children's personal information and photos with this new TOS change.

It is unbelievable, an outrage, a betrayal of trust.

8 upvotes
Oliver Lang

You mean the information that was available prior to the current TOS changes announced? Hmmm...

2 upvotes
caslid

This is a classic Zuckerberg-ish/FB move for Instagram. Float something out there and see if you can get away with it. Then, when there's outrage, say you were misinterpreted, and you're really just good guys and it's all one big misunderstanding.

Instagram says that they can use 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 . . ." and that they can do that and "may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such. "

So when they wrote that they can use your photos, username, etc in ads without telling you or compensating you, they were just, ummm, misunderstood.

15 upvotes
Lk400

I couldnt agree more. Misunderstanding, backpedalling, or whatever, I deleted my instagram account, just like I did to facebook years ago.

Comment edited 32 seconds after posting
5 upvotes
Rage Joe

I don't like that Suckerberg -guy.

3 upvotes
Digitall

People get outraged about TOS is a normal procedure.
And because it's a free service, there has to exploit users for the work they do. Before the birth Instagram already knew that was going to be free, and as such, all that was thought. Not this time spent trying to get around people. They can make money in other ways. Now here they send out notices to appease spirits. Giving what was said by the unsaid.
Obviously people have the right to show indignation and discontent sen, and who am I to say otherwise.
Anyway I deleted my account on Instagram, they will not miss me, I do not miss them.

1 upvote
Dvlee

It looks like we got their attention!

But we have yet to see how Instagrams revised terms play out. Will they quell the public uproar? Or will they just try to introduce more ambiguous wording that leaves us scratching our heads?

I'm afraid however the the erosion of user intellectual property rights will be like the rise in gas prices: up a dollar, the public complains, down seventy five sents, the public feels relief, then up a dollar...after a while gas hits $6 a gallon we'll be happy to see the price drop to $5.25!!

Likewise these "social networking" ,or digital image display sites may announce unacceptable terms , then, in response to user complaints, revise them to make it appear that they have backed off, when in fact, they have advanced their encroachment on IP rights.

We have to be diligent about these changes and stand by a Zero Tolerance policy. In fact we should demand they rescind all usage claims other than what is needed to display content as the users intended.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Photomonkey

Kind of fun to watch people get outraged about TOS on a free service. Also fun to see business people try to figure out how to make money with their free service without enraging the users.

2 upvotes
Dvlee

They provide the platform but the users provide the actual content that makes the platform interesting to people. Facebook and Instagram do not create their own content, we do it for them.

They sell the information they gather on us to advertisers who use it to advertise to a target demographic. This is a more efficient and cost effective method of advertising.

case in point: On Pinterest I created a board on Mid Century Modern furniture. Almost immediately I start seeing ads for Mid Century Modern Furniture on facebook, Yahoo, just about any site I go to that has ads. The information we provide them is a valuable commodity to advertisers.

So we may not have to pay for those services, but we give them something valuable in exchange. Yahoo, fb and Google have made billions this way, as did TV and radio for many decades before the web. They don't need to claim usage rights to get a fair exchange for the service they provide.

4 upvotes
Lk400

Agree. However, targeted advertising is annoying. Also, how effective is it? In the information age, what modern day, informed consumer believes the advertising spin that is thrown at us - targeted or not?

0 upvotes
Najinsky

Storm meet teacup.

Instagram allows you to share your images with others. That costs money; servers, storage, bandwidth, people. Money doesn't magically appear where needed and has to be raised.

In raising money they want to showcase their product, which incorporates your images and the community surrounding them.

It's really easy.

What's really hard it making wording to describe it to the satisfaction of the litigious hoards and conspiracy theorists. And with good reason, because when a business get granted a right, whether intentionally or by accident, history tells us it may one day suit it to exploit that right to the max.

2 upvotes
Dvlee

The fees they would have to pay for images to use in their ads and promotions would be an insignificant amount in proportion to their other operating expenses and earnings.

Other companies that have much smaller earnings and tighter profit margins pay substantial amounts for photography. The photography aspect is just a small portion of their advertising costs.

Look at the numbers for 2011:

Facebook-3.71 billion in sales/revenue
1 billion net income

Canon-45 Billion in net sales
4.8 billion net income (pretax)

Epson-11.7 billion in sales
123 million in net income

When facebook purchased Instagram , Instagram had 13 employees. Its operating expenses are practically nonexistant compared to Canon (197,000 employees), Epson (80,000 employees) and even the parent company facebook, which only employs some 3000 employees.

facebook/Instagram can afford to pay for the photos they use in their ads.

4 upvotes
Najinsky

They have the right to use their product in their promotions. And people who signed up to IG agreed to be the product. Nothing has changed in that regard.

All that happened is was clumsy wording which could have been interpreted as claiming the right to sell other people's 'work' without compensating them. This they have explicitly stated as not their intention, and I see no reason to be skeptical about that, but if they do/did have that right, it will inevitably get exploited whether or not it was the original intention.

It's really no different than submitting your photos to the readers photos section of Amateur Photography and having them published. There is no compensation, just the pride (and sometimes a prize). Later, the readers photo section of the magazine, complete with yours and others photos visible, but not the main subject, appears in an AP Ad. Again, no compensation due. If you submit your photos to make money, there's better options. If you object to the terms, leave

1 upvote
expoboy52

Wouldn't this be akin to the supplier of Picasso's blank canvases claiming ownership of his paintings?

1 upvote
tkbslc

It would be more like a gallery offering free painting supplies and gallery space in exchange for reprint rights.

0 upvotes
Saleen1999

I don't have but a few images on there that aren't anything special but they are mine and I don't want them sold and I don't think that it is fair to steal another one's images.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
tkbslc

But you are cool not paying for the software and servers to host your photos, right?

1 upvote
JadedGamer

Instagram's need to have a sound business model (e.g. ads) is not the responsibility of its users. And "terms of service" is not an alias for "can ignore copyright law". Sure, they can make a new set of terms because they want to change their business model to utilize user-provided content, and the users are reacting by abandoning the service. Nothing wrong with that. A hotel that had terms where they could borrow your car while you stayed there would not see many visitors, either.

0 upvotes
CameraLabTester

Instagram surely must have seen the "real time" stats graph of the plunging subscriptions indicator.

This about face is the result of that... but they will just spin up a sugary coated text with the same generic meaning.

The website host to provide safe copyright haven will be the future premium provider...

.

3 upvotes
BSHolland

What I don't understand is: Why did this Instagram thing cause such a stir?

It's not much different to all the others out there. Take Google's T&C for example – same thing.
http://agbeat.com/real-estate-technology-new-media/you-better-read-googles-terms-of-service-before-uploading-photos-to-google/

Or how about the US National Park photo competition T&C:
http://www.sharetheexperience.org/rules

In fact, MOST photo competitions these days ask for a "non-exclusive worldwide license to use".

FlickR seems to be one of the few viable options for professionals

0 upvotes
Richard Butler

The non-exclusive worldwide license isn't the contentious bit - that is the minimum a website needs in order to make the image you've uploaded available to people wanting to see it.

That includes Flickr (which builds on the Yahoo terms of service: http://info.yahoo.com/legal/us/yahoo/utos/utos-173.html)

Comment edited 57 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Oliver Lang

Yes, but not all TOS state that that world-wide license is transferable and sub-licensable. (Rights item 1).

1 upvote
BSHolland

@R Butler: FlickR's point 9b in their terms of service are actually photographer-friendly.

So are SOME (very few) photo competitions these days, who say something like this: "by entering this competition you grant as a (...) license (...) IN CONJUNCTION WITH THIS COMPETITION", i.e. to promote & display the competition itself.
But most competitions are missing that little sideline.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Button Pusher
2 upvotes
satureyes

Darn right we are all crops and social demographics.
That's why whatever I write on Facebook is usually a load of useless whittering crap that they are welcome to.

I never put up images of my kids or other people's kids on any social media site.

1 upvote
dwireman

I have uninstalled Instagram. I don't like square photos anyway!

2 upvotes
harry cannoli

Sure. Whatever. Such is life in the cloud. Give me my 8tB RAID and you can keep your cloud.

I expect that whatever I post on the internet is fair game, even though it shouldn't be.

0 upvotes
carizi

Oh well........

Comment edited 46 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Magnus3D

I would love to know how many users they lost because of this stupid so called "mistake". Probably a lot of users dropped out and will never return again.

4 upvotes
AlanG

I like the expression, "was never our intention." Sure. As if they didn't have a bunch of lawyers go over that with a fine toothed comb and try to snooker users from the get go.

5 upvotes
Horshack

It's the same rope-a-dope strategy Facebook employs in all their ToS changes. It's designed to lull you into a false sense of security while they systematically keep pressing the ToS until they have the right to sell all your private information to the highest bidders.

2 upvotes
harry cannoli

"Until?"

How do you think facebook makes money? To them, you're not a person, you're a crop to be harvested.

They parse out what you listen to, what you wear, what you watch, who you talk to, what phone you use, where you came from, your political views, your corporate views, your social views, the list goes on.

All this information is neatly bundled up and sold. Even if your pictures remain yours.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
7 upvotes
Felipe Rodríguez

I just cancelled my Instagram account...

0 upvotes
Saffron_Blaze

Anyone that believes Instagram (read: Facebook) will not do everything in its power to monetise user content is just niaive.

3 upvotes
accupix

If they want to use my profile photo to promote their services to other users, then they should compensate me, or give me the option to prevent them from using it. Otherwise they are steeling my image, as well as my photo! Wise-up folks, you own both the image and the photo of yourself when it is used for commercial purposes (and you don't need to post one of yourself on either service.)

0 upvotes
bustback

accupix: that's actually the gray area. If you upload shots of other people, model releases will be necessary if those images are used for commercial gain (either by Instagram or it's advertisers).

The not-quite-clear part is for photos of yourself, as the TOS states in a very awkward manner that you are assigning rights for your images. So, they could theoretically use any photo you uploaded where you are in the photo without compensation.

But in no way can they use photos you took of other people without potentially being liable.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 79
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