Hipsters Rejoice: Instagram Doesn’t Want To Sell Your Precious Photos

Hipsters Rejoice: Instagram Doesn’t Want To Sell Your Precious Photos

Deep breaths…

Instagram recently updated its Terms of Service (TOS), and everyone freaked out at a clause that said a “business may pay Instagram to display your photos in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions without any compensation to you.” INSTAGRAM CAN SELL MY PHOTOS WITHOUT MY PERMISSION?!? Quick, everyone move to Flickr!!!

As with most news involving social network privacy, it has all been blown way out of proportion. No, Instagram does not want to sell your precious pics you take on your iPhone.

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom in a blog post today:

From the start, Instagram was created to become a business. Advertising is one of many ways that Instagram can become a self-sustaining business, but not the only one. 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.

There you have it. Instagram cannot “sell” your photos like an auctioneer; it has limited ability to display ads involving your photos and personal data. It’s no different than how Facebook and Google know everything about you and can tailor ads to your personal info.

From the mouth of Systrom:

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.

So, that close-up latte art shot you took on your iPhone 5 and gave the new Willow filter in your favorite coffee shop? Yeah, you totally own that.

Facebook owns Instagram, and Facebook wouldn’t have paid nearly a billion dollars if it didn’t think it could monetize Instagram somehow. When you don’t financially pay to use a service, you are the payment. The location info and interactions associated with Instagram photos are valuable to advertisers. Facebook has to leverage that somehow, or it’s not being a good business.

Instagram will be updating its TOS soon with a more straightforward breakdown on privacy. In the meantime, read this great piece on The Verge about what it all this really means.

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  • noelkinghero

    You sound very naive. As a pro shooter I deal with companies trying to grab my rights all the time. That’s where the power and money is. Instagram wrote such overreaching language not because they have dumb attorneys, but because they want all they can get. They know where the money is, it’s in OWNING creative content. Wake up!

  • ardchoille

    “It is not our intention to..” is NOT the same as “we promise not to..”
    They got caught and now they’re trying to stop the crap storm. Did they amend the TOS? No, nothing has changed except some lawyerspeak.
    Rule #1: If they CAN, they eventually WILL.. it’s a business after all.

  • aSachaB

    I still wont back to Instagram, As they are OWNED by Facebook…

  • That_Dan_Person

    If instagram what to make money, why not sell the App for 99 cents and then sell new filters for 99 cents or in bundles? Not that it bothers me as I deleted my account and the App last night. I see Nat Geo have suspended their instagram account due to the change in the TOS and are thinking of deleting their account

    As a photographer I own everything I take. Unless the client requests I give up all copyright of that job in the contract.

  • jackfreedom

    What’s up w/ the constant condescension of Instagram users? i.e. “Hipsters Rejoice.” And this charming line…”So, that close-up latte art shot you took on your iPhone 5 and gave the new Willow filter in your favorite coffee shop? Yeah, you totally own that.”
    Wow. Bite me. Instagram has some excellent filters and effects, and I’ve created some really terrific images using it. But every time I see an article about Instagram, this snark accompanies it. It’s too easy, dude, to write like that. Stop being insulting and say what you have to say w/out mindlessly demeaning users of a very good app just to make yourself seem so hip that you’re above it all. Bite me.

  • site7000

    The author is either a Facebook shill or incredibly naive. Since he snipped off the words “you agree” from the start of the clip from the new license, I’m thinking shill. But since he actually bought the ” it is not our intention to sell your photos” line, maybe he’s just naive. Then again, it’s hard to believe a sentient being cannot understand the import of “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….” So I have to conclude “shill.”

  • Andrew Newsome

    You sound very naive. As a pro shooter I deal with companies trying to grab my rights all the time. That’s where the power and money is. Instagram wrote such overreaching language not because they have dumb attorneys, but because they want all they can get. They know where the money is, it’s in OWNING creative content. Wake up!

    Or you could get a job

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath has been a staff writer at Cult of Mac for over two years. He is also a co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by places like the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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