Tuesday 18 December 2012

Instagram - Yes or No?

A rather stunning sky over Jarrow

So Instagram, the photo sharing service that was bought by Facebook earlier in the year, have changed their privacy policy and terms of service. I actually read them yesterday, and found that apparently "Nothing has changed about your photos’ ownership or who can see them"...which appears to directly contradict point 1 of their Rights section, in which they state that "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". In point 2, they point out that "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"...yet in point 8 they say that "you agree that Instagram is not responsible for, and does not endorse, Content posted within the Service". So basically, Instagram are saying that they aren't responsible for your content, nor do they own it, but it's perfectly okay for them to let other people use your username and photos etc. in promotions without paying you.

The Leazes Park bandstand
I used to love Instagram, but since they were bought by Facebook, I haven't been impressed by some of their decisions. This one in particular makes me feel very uneasy. Theoretically, Newcastle City Council could pay Facebook to license photos I've taken around the city in their advertising - without me seeing a penny of it. By comparison, Google can't sell photos you upload through Picasa or Google+, and Flickr can only use the images you upload "solely for the purpose for which such content was submitted or made available". True, there don't appear to be any immediate plans to monetise the images currently available on Instagram but that doesn't mean that they won't.

It's bad enough having people using your content without crediting you (I've had people steal my photos and cover up my copyright with their own tat, as if that somehow nullifies the existence of the copyright) but to force the change through your terms of service? I suppose the question comes down to whether or not I'm prepared to put up with that possibility (bearing in mind no one might ever use my images) or whether I'm irritated enough to delete my account. After all, I put most of my images on Facebook and Twitter anyway, as well as Flickr, so would it really matter if I didn't use Instagram? I can achieve all of its filter effects through Photoshop so it's not like it's really going to bother me if I'm sharing photos through Twitter instead.

My Halloween 'Lady Beetlejuice' costume
Thing is, there are a lot of photos of me on Instagram - do I really want someone using those without my express permission? There was an episode of Friends years ago in which Joey's photo was used on an advert about VD, and it put off countless women as they assumed that meant he had one form or other of it. I don't want to get into the situation where someone I don't even know decides to use a photo of me, and the association is a negative or embarrassing one. I'm quite happy to embarrass myself or project myself badly but I don't want someone else to do it for me. I wouldn't mind leaving up photos of cakes I've made, or daft signs I've found, but there doesn't seem to be any way of deleting individual photos, so I can't even alter the way I use the service by removing those images that I wouldn't want them to make available.

So question is...do I stay or do I go?


Meredith said...

Given the number of professional photographers who use Instagram for self-promotion, I think IG is going to find that they are losing a lot of the people whose pics they would want to sell. The overall quality of the pics will likely go down as people who are conscious of their intellectual property rights leave the service. I think they'll find that once the time comes, they're not going to have a lot of pics that advertisers will want to buy.

Larry Kollar said...

I never signed up for Instagram, and now I won't. If I had an account there, I'd take down everything and leave a shot of my bony middle finger.

Unknown said...

Your concerns about the change to Instagram are

well explained and i do not think you could be

accepting of them. As you and most people post on

several social media sites at same time how to

proceed depends on several things.

On the one hand Flckr seems a good alternative.

what i do not know but i expect you will:

does face book treat photos on facebook

differently to those on twitter. and will you

be able to post on twitter if not using


Tony Noland said...

I'm not much of a photog, so never signed up for Instagram. The idea of, "oh, yeah, all that stuff we've tricked you into posting will now be a massive revenue stream for us but not you and thanks for the pictures of your kids" is icky.

John Wiswell said...

They seem to be undoing this now that they've been caught, not that I'd trust them. I'm curious, though: with Facebook's policies (and tendency to change them), are you hesitant to share pictures there?

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