Instagram Isn’t Stealing Your Photos . . . For Now
Facebook, the new owner of the popular photo-sharing site Instagram, announced late Tuesday, that it has spiked their plans to institute a new policy which would have allowed the social media giant to distribute and possibly monetize any Instagram-generated photograph posted on the social media giant’s site.
The first shots against the proposed policy came fast and furious—first from CNET’s Declan McCullagh, who wrote, “That means that a hotel in Hawaii, for instance, could write a check to Facebook to license photos taken at its resort and use them on its Web site, in TV ads, in glossy brochures, and so on — without paying any money to the Instagram user who took the photo.”
It would have been a chilling action on Facebook/Instagram’s part. Apparently Facebook’s leadership felt the cold wind by midday as comments rained down, all with messages similar to this one from a CNET poster named “Liffin” who said, “If you don’t want your pictures sold by Instagram/Facebook. Take them off now.” Nothing gets the attention of bottom-line executives as the possibility of a consumer boycott.
As a photojournalist, I am heartened by the power of social media to protect the images many of us work hard to achieve, and many of us just shoot and share. Pro or amateur, we all felt blindsided by the prospect of a Draconian terms-of-use contract, summarized by Huffington Post. Teens and pre-teens who posted Instagram images would not have been exempt from the contract’s sharp claws, as CNNMoney noted. “Even minors are subject to the new terms: ‘If you are under the age of eighteen …. you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to this provision.’ Users can’t opt out of the new provisions. The only way to avoid them is to delete your Instagram account altogether.”
Most of my own work appearing on Facebook within the past year or so was not shot for commercial purposes, though I often apply a copyright notice to those pictures of sufficient quality and subject interest that, at my own discretion, I could market. The idea that any entity other than my own agent or agency could use those images at their discretion was totally…well, you know.
Rod Reilly, one of the nation’s premier aviation photographers, who, like many professionals and amateurs, posts Instagram photos on Facebook not for profit but simply to share, characterized the proposed move as, “Greedy….and not right. As much as I love Instagram, I would have to opt out. Not because my work is so special…but because my work…is mine!”
I have to agree with Rod. My work is mine, and, thanks to the whirlwind of social media, it’s going to stay that way…for now.
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