I’ve already told you about how you don’t own your video games.
I’ve already told you about how you don’t own your books.
And if you haven’t already heard, while you do own your photos, you’re licensing them away for free – at least if they’re on Instagram.
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 – New Instagram Terms of Service
Don’t want to have your pictures sold? Too bad. Users cannot opt out.The only option is to delete your accounts ahead of the new terms of service coming into effect next month.
The trick here is actually a reverse of the case with video games and books, wherein the publishers own the content and “license” it to users. IE – Companies can remotely alter/delete content on devices you own because you don’t actually own the game/book.
In the instance with Instrgram they have included the following new language in their Terms of Service:
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
So with Instagram, users retain the ownership rights to content, but grant a license to Instagram; the opposite of the case with digital games and books.
What will be interesting is when this goes to the courts. So far, courts have held that digital software/book licensing is legitimate – enabling content owners the right to remotely modify/alter/delete any licensed content that is on user devices (See the links at the top of this post). Applying the same reasoning courts have exercised previously, then Instagram users should have the same right to remotely modify/alter/delete any licensed content.
Which will be amusing the first time some advertiser uses an Instagram users photo in an ad and it gets replaced with goatse.
Update: David Sheldon has a good post as well: Instagram Won’t Be Putting Most of Your Photos in Ads — Here’s Why
Update 2: Instagram backed down.
Legal documents are easy to misinterpret.
From the start, Instagram was created to become a business.
You’re kidding me.
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.
Does anyone actually buy this for a second? This was absolutely an executive level move to monetize the service. Some C-level exec told them to go forwards with this and told the lawyers to make it work. Then when they did it, everyone rightfully revolted.
Don’t expect to hear the end of this. Something like this will rear its head again in the future.