UPDATE 6:10 a.m. Oct. 21: Instagram has announced that it will not change its policies on advertising in its upcoming Terms of Service update. Company co-founder Kevin Systrom said in a blog post that the policies will remain unchanged from the version that has been in effect since 2010. Read the blog post here.
Many photographers yesterday went insta-crazy over Instagram's change in its terms of service. The San Francisco-based photo-sharing app, bought by Facebook this year for a cool billion dollars, sparked a backlash among users when it released new language that seemed to indicate the company owned their content. Here's one of the relevant passages:
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.
CNET and the New York Times' Bits blog, among others, put up posts on the practical implications of that language, helping to galvanize the resulting hue and cry that forced Instagram to issue a blog post backing away from the changes. Written by co-founder Kevin Systrom, the post was titled "Thank you, and we're listening." Systrom said Instagram has no plans to utilize user photos in ads and does not claim ownership rights over them.
Extracts from the post:
Advertising on Instagram
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 language we proposed also raised question about whether your photos can be part of an advertisement. We do not have plans for anything like this and because of that we’re going to remove the language that raised the question.
Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos. Nothing about this has changed. We respect that there are creative artists and hobbyists alike that pour their heart into creating beautiful photos, and we respect that your photos are your photos. Period.
Nothing has changed about the control you have over who can see your photos. If you set your photos to private, Instagram only shares your photos with the people you’ve approved to follow you.
One of the most prominent Instagram users to publicly rebel yesterday was Richard Koci Hernandez. Hernandez is an Emmy-ward winning multimedia artist who teaches at Cal's graduate journalism school. He's been described as an "Instagram superstar," and his work using the app has been featured on the New York Times' Lens blog. Yesterday, Hernandez posted the following on Webstagram, an Instagram photo-viewing site.
(B)y now you've all read about Instagram's new terms of service ... We're all going to feel different about what this means for us as individual creators and that is expected. I see myself as a 'cautious optimist,' so I have my fingers crossed that they, Instagram, will listen to the voice of the community and reverse the new terms of service, but I'm not holding my breath. I don't feel like debating the terms of service or being too nostalgic about the old days of Instagram, I feel that it's much better just to take our work and more importantly friendship and conversation to another place that respects our rights and ownership as creators. Let's move the party to a new location.
Until then, I'll be posting any new photographs on Flickr user name Koci Hernandez , Starmatic and EyeEm user Koci. I'll keep this account open until January 16 so that I can follow the developments and continue to be optimistic about a possible change.