Hey, remember when Facebook bought Instagram? And we all made jokes about oh, well, there goes the Kelvin-tinted neighborhood, because Facebook’s gonna dick around with the service and find some way to ruin it because FACEBOOK?
Well. Great news. It’s happening. THE FUTURE IS NOW.
The future is January 16, 2013, actually, to be exact. That’s the day Instagram‘s new and most definitely NOT improved Terms of Service (TOS) will go into effect. And while I know mass Internet freak-outs about weird privacy clauses and confusion over copyright law are nothing new, in this case…yeah. These changes suck. Legitimately.
So you own your photos…but you also grant Instagram the rights to use them like their own personal stock photo playground, royalty free. And “sub-licensable” basically means other companies can too, with Instagram’s blessing, BECAUSE…
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.
Instagram gots to get paid, son. You, on the other hand? You can go fuck yourself., BECAUSE…
You acknowledge that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such.
Photos of your kids on vacation? Hotel brochure! Artfully shot street photography? Cheesy travel website! Photos of what you ate for brunch? Well. I don’t know about those. The demand for vintage-y photos of mimosas and omelettes is probably way, way less than the current Instagram supply.
But still: Starting on January 16, Instagram plans to sell photos without paying the photographer, or even notifying them that their photos are being used commercially for places and products that they might possibly object to. Could be your photos, could be someone else’s. There is no way to opt out other than to delete your photos and account prior to January 16th. From that point on, even if you delete your account AFTER the new TOS go into effect, you may have granted Instagram and Facebook the rights to use your photos in perpetuity, as there is no language that says deleting your account terminates Instagram’s rights to your previously uploaded photos.
I actually really, genuinely and unironically love Instagram. It’s the only social network I use and check daily. I’m too drama-averse to stomach Twitter on most days, and Facebook lost its appeal for me ages ago. (Coincidentally, around the time that a third-party ad for a diploma mill stole a photo of my baby from my [non-Facebook] blog and I got to witness Facebook’s absolutely TERRIBLE customer service and communication first-hand.) But Instagram, I love.
I love it so much that for Christmas, my BFF had a mosaic canvas made of our past year together, as told via row after row of Instagram photos. All our favorite moments together, with our kids, our families (along with stupid shit like stalking each other with a life-size Harry Potter cut-out and copious amounts of Velveeta dip), were Instagrammed along the way and it was fun and pretty and good.
And while I’m generally pretty chill about the whole “putting photos on the Internet” and understand how copyright works and blah blah blaaaaaah, there’s no fucking way I would ever agree to these new terms from Instragram. Unless this shit gets DRASTICALLY changed (which might still be possible once Instagram fully realizes the Netflix-shaped hole of oh-fuck-we’ve-pissed-everyone-off-and-are-bleeding-users-already they’ve stepped in) I will export my photos and I will delete my account. (Here’s a great list of handy tools you can use for getting all your photos off Instagram.)
Meanwhile, Twitter has released a whole batch of Instagram-style filters for photos (in the wake of re-jiggering their code so Instagram photos weren’t visible anyway), and Flickr is making a belated comeback from the near-dead with their own Instagram-style app (in hopes of people using Flickr for other things besides…posting Instagram photos, probably). I haven’t tried it yet, but have heard good things and Flickr’s TOS is nothing like this new bullshit, so…yeah. I now have the next item on my to-do list once I finish this screed.
Your move, Instagram. Your goddamned move.