On Instagram

I came to Instagram late. Like, a couple months ago, having assumed it was just a bastion of hipsters and foodies. And grudgingly, I started to really enjoy it.

And then this happened:

“We may share your information as well as information from tools like cookies, log files, and device identifiers and location data with organisations that help us provide the service to you… (and) third-party advertising partners.

To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you,

This is all well reported via BBC News.

Additionally, we see the folloiwng comment:

In the updated policy document, Instagram also said it may not always identify paid services or sponsored content. The company said it doesn’t claim ownership of any content on the service, though some businesses may pay to display users’ names, likeness or photos in connection with sponsored content.

Now, I have a problem with that. It’s all well and good to say you don’t ‘claim ownership’. But if you can sell my images to someone, take payment, and not pay me for that? Yeah, that’s “claiming ownership”. Because you can’t legally sell images you don’t own. THere’s a multitude of reasons for this to be a problem. From the paid, professional photographer whose livlihood is impacted (why would a company come and negotiate with him, when they can just have a single larger deal with FB/Instagram, and take what they want?) to the already-happened possibility of seeing your dead relative shilling for a company they despised, because the picture was available on Instagram, to a multitude of other situations.

So, yes, I have a problem with this. You want my images, compensate me. And deigning to “allow” me to use the service isn’t enough. Like I said, the corporations make a stink about other people taking their intellectual property for free, and then try to.. you know, take other people’s intellectual property for free.

And, lets be clear here. I’m not a “you looked at my image, so you have to pay” guy. But if you’re going to profit from access to my image, I want my share. I think that’s fair.

Sadly, the only way around Instagram/Facebook’s new policy of taking your property and selling it for profit is to delete your account. It’s a pain in the ass, but it’s the right thing to do. I have huge problems with the hipocracy of corporations who, at one end, scream about users stealing/sharing their intellectual property, and then turn around and write exactly that right into the agreement they have with their users. It’s (pardon my French) fucking bullshit.

And the thing is, Facebook (now owners of Instagram) keep trying this bullshit. I think they did finally manage to slide it into the FB EULA in the last year or so. And the social world keeps jumping up and telling them to go fuck themselves, and then they try again later.

So, I know that a bunch of my (relatively few) readers here are long-time flickr users, and flickr‘s timing has been fantastic: they have a new app which has been a long time in the coming. It’s got that filter/instagram-esque interface in the camera portion, direct upload to flickr, and direct social media sharing (ie. facebook, twitter, tumblr) although there’s no Google+ yet, which is a shame. The filters are NOT up to instagram standards, but I’m guessing that’s with the caveat of “yet”. And, no soft-focus and hard contrast stuff either. Again, I’m guessing “yet”, because that kind of thing is generally appreciated. The other option, of course, is to use your in-device editor of choice, and then upload the picture without flickr intervention in terms of editing, and that works nicely, too.

Ok. Rant off. Go get the flickr app. Go download all your instagram pics. Delete your instagram. EVen if they lose ten or fifteen percent of their users, I think they’ll notice. they won’t get me back now, but they might salvage it, long term.

Post Script.

And they’ve already changed their minds (ie. are doing damage control after seeing the negative backlash):

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.

In my opinion the last sentence does not at all jibe with “you agree that a business may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you,”

“You agree that a business may pay us [buy] to display your … photos… without any compensation to you”
“It is not our intention to sell your photos”

It seems pretty obvious to me that was what they intended, is all I’m saying.

And even if they change the wording, I’ll be moving to flickr. Thanks to this clusterfuck, I discovered that the Flickr app is dramatically updated, and exactly what I wanted from Flickr. Perfect.


4 Responses to On Instagram

  1. Actually, the interesting case is going to be something like this: Say you’re an Instagram user and I’m not, and we’re are at Bundy and Kid’s for a BBQ on their back deck. Suppose you snap a picture of me nomming away on a burger and upload it to Instagram. What happens if they then turn around and use that image for promotional purposes, or sell it to, say, The American Elk Burger Association of America for them to use in a promotion? You may have consented to Instagram to use that picture, but I certainly didn’t sign a modelling release with you, or them. What if it was a picture of ‘Nyx (obviously a minor) nomming on that burger and I was feeling particularly litigious and looking for an early retirement?

    In that scenario, I would think that everyone gets sued, but Facebook (Instagram) and the AEBAA have deep pockets and expensive lawyers. The poor photographer is the one who gets it in the neck.

  2. markramsden says:

    Yup. these are EXACTLY the issues at hand. And while I have less issues with the use of my image, rather than my images, there’s still an issue there.

    And, ridiculously, companies have tried this already and got busted for it (the Australian company who used a US residents pic for advertising is the primary one I always think of).

    One thing people sueing Toyota for fuel economy claims on the Prius has been Small Claims courts. You can file in your own jurisdiction, the company at hand has to travel there, rather than choosing a court of their preference, and in matters like these, it becomes an easy “settle” for the company, (either takedown, or pay) because it costs more to defend a claim in small claims (and then have to pay damages as well) than it does to settle, by a huge amount (ie. In the Toyota cases, people are filing all over the USA for amounts under ten grand. Every claim has to be individually defended by one of Toyota’s $300+/hr lawyers, and they get billed for travel time, accomodations, etc. Defending each $10,000 (max) claim, might cost them up to two or three times that. Last I checked, there were 172 of these small claims suites.

    It’s a decent weapon for the small consumer to take on the corporate pockets, by effectively elliminating the “moneybags” effect. Apparently, it’s worked better than class action level suites.

  3. Pingback: For all of you Instagram Users! - Genesis Forum: GenCoupe Hyundai Genesis Forums

  4. Pingback: On Instagram | One Headlight Photography

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