The ‘suicide note’ of Instagram? That’s how New York-based photographer Clayton Cubbit described the new end-user terms for the photo sharing service Instagram. But what should we really make about their new plans to make money from our photos.
Instagram is famous for a few things. Launched in 2010, the service offers an easy way for users to share simple, small photographs to their friends and any one else who wants to look via the internet. The service famously doesn’t have a website as such, but shares the content via a smartphone app and also via social media platforms such as Facebook.
Indeed, in April 2012, the platform was bought out by Facebook for $1 Billion in cash and stock and late on in the year, the 30 ‘millionth’ user registered their account. It may of been a meteoric rise from the humble beginnings in 2010, however 2012 has not ended well.
On Dec 17th, Instagram announced a series of changes to their End User License Agreement (EULA), you know, all the waffle that no-one reads but ‘accepts’ before using something. Well it turns out that some of the changes are pretty big and also, at face value, seem pretty unfair too.
Selling your stuff
It turns out Instagram now want to sell your photographs without letting you take any of the profit, something which borders on unethical (and if it wasn’t something end users were ‘agreeing’ to, illegal). As from January 16th, the plan is that people who are using the service will, by default, also be making their images available for sale or use without their express permission.
Such a move will undoubtably anger anyone who has a creative understanding and many will stop using the service unless Instagram change their minds but should we be surprised that after paying so much money for it, the Facebook team want to see some kind of return. Not content with merely providing the app, they want to cash in and can you really blame them?
Instagram… If you’re reading this…
Anyone who buys something wants to get something in return. Some kind of use or purpose so I don’t think that its necessarily wrong for Instagram to make some money however the way in which they seem to be going about it does seem terribly unfair. Instead, I would propose a much farer way of making money. Why can’t Instagram share some of the profit back with the photographers? Why can’t everyone see a benefit from such proposed changes? How nice would it be every now and again, for end uses to receive an email stating that one of their photos has sold and as such, they have some money coming their way?
Unfortunately for end-users, such income could be problematic for tax purposes (even though many of the users are too young to pay it!) and lets not forget ‘model release’ as well. Instagram may come a cropper if they are trying to sell an image of a person without the relevant permissions, in those cases, a simple change of the EULA would not necessarily be enough.
It looks like there may be troubled times ahead for Instagram if they intend to stick with their plans and for any Instagram users out there, it may be a good idea to follow this story a little closer to see if the service is something which you’d be happy to continue to use.