So Instagram can now sell your photos: Get over it

The Instagram community is complaining about the change to its terms and conditions which allows Instagram to generate revenue from your photos -- without compensating you.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

*** Updated***

Instagram made a change to its terms of service (TOS) yesterday, which has caused a kerfuffle about ownership of its photos. The TOS has been changed to include statements about selling your details on to third parties for advertising.

The new terms come in to effect on January 16, 2013. You must delete your Instagram account before then if you want to opt out of the new terms.

The general terms of service state that Instagram:

‘reserve(s) the right to modify or terminate the Service or your access to the Service for any reason, without notice, at any time, and without liability to you’


‘reserve(s) the right, in our sole discretion, to change these Terms of Use ("Updated Terms") from time to time’.

The paragraph which will have the biggest impact on users is:

‘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.

If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to this provision (and the use of your name, likeness, username, and/or photos (along with any associated metadata)) on your behalf’.

The community have been in uproar about the news. This change in policy effectively gives Facebook, which bought Instagram and its 5 billion photos in September the rights to sell your uploaded photos. You will not see any revenue, nor get any credit for the images used.

So what is the problem?

You have been uploading your photos to Instagram, expecting the service to be free, available and reliable at all times.

You are not using a paid service. Instagram needs to monetise its services. It has two choices. Paid ads and image use, or it can switch to a paid model for image uploads.

I am happy to let Facebook/Instagram trawl through five billion plus photos, most of them taken with an iPad or iPhone and uploaded to the service.

Let it tidy up grainy, dark, fuzzy out of focus images and offer them for sale. Let it sort through the millions of family, pet, ‘action’ and party photos to find a great image with good composition, framing and colour.

It is welcome to try to make money from my images, such as they are – Instagram still needs to pay the bills to host them.

But if you hate the idea of any corporation making money from the free service it offers you to host your photos, video and status updates then there are some steps you can take.

Use a service to download your photos to your PC such as Softonic or Instaport. Or, delete your Instagram account before January 16th 2013.

And whilst you are at it, you had better delete your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts too – LinkedIn and Facebook both have similar Rights paragraphs in its terms and conditions.

UPDATE: (My bad. LinkedIn removed this paragraph from its terms)

Or you can just put up with it – knowing that your bar room drunken cell phone uploads will never quite make the grade.

*** Update***

Instagram released a blog post explaining its change to its Terms of Service. Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom says: 

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

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