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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Instagram Policy Change: They Can Sell Your Photos To Anyone They Want, Without Payment To You

By Susan Duclos

Bottom Line for users that do not want their photos that they store online to share with friends or family, via Instagram, sold to be used by anyone Instagram decides to sell them to, is to delete your Instagram account before January 16, 2013.

Other services with less invasive policies are linked at the bottom of this post.

CNET explains:

The new intellectual property policy, which takes effect on January 16, comes three months after Facebook completed its acquisition of the popular photo-sharing site. Unless Instagram users delete their accounts before the January deadline, they cannot opt out.

Under the new policy, Facebook claims the perpetual right to license all public Instagram photos to companies or any other organization, including for advertising purposes, which would effectively transform the Web site into the world's largest stock photo agency. One irked Twitter user quipped that "Instagram is now the new iStockPhoto, except they won't have to pay you anything to use your images."

"It's asking people to agree to unspecified future commercial use of their photos," says Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "That makes it challenging for someone to give informed consent to that deal."

CNET highlights the two additions to the terms of use policy that will allow Instagram to use your photos in any manner they see fit:

Facebook's new rights to sell Instagram users' photos come from two additions to its terms of use policy. One section deletes the current phrase "limited license" and, by inserting the words "transferable" and "sub-licensable," allows Facebook to license users' photos to any other organization.

A second section allows Facebook to charge money. It says that "a business or other entity may pay us to display your... photos... in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you." That language does not exist in the current terms of use.

 NYT's Bits lists all the changes in the policy together:

1. Instagram can share information about its users with Facebook, its parent company, as well as outside affiliates and advertisers.

2. You could star in an advertisement — without your knowledge.

3. Underage users are not exempt.

4. Ads may not be labeled as ads.

The Instagram blog new Terms of Use, found here.

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.

Taking a popular free service and attempting to turn it into a moneymaker is not wrong, in fact it is part of the free market system and should be encouraged, but the methods Instagram is using to go about it are highly controversial.

Instagram owners, Facebook, could have offered an opt-out for users or even for specified photos uploaded by users to prevent pictures of their children, for example, from being used in advertisements, but they didn't.

Wired details how to upload your photos and then delete your Instagram account:

If the new terms are tough for you to swallow, there is a way to quickly remove yourself from the many-filtered ways of Instagram.

First you’ll want to download all of your photos. Instaport will download your entire Instagram photo library in just a few minutes. Currently the service only offers a zip file download of your photos, although direct export to Flickr and Facebook are in the works.

Once the photos are downloaded, you can upload them to another photo service. Some of the Gadget Lab staff is fond of the new Flickr app and service.

After you’ve removed your photos from Instagram, you can quickly delete your account and pretend you’ve never even heard of Lo-Fi filter.

Once users have downloaded their photos from Instagram, they can upload them to a variety of other services so they can share with family and friends online.

Google's Picasa and Yahoo's  Flickr are two services that CNET mention, both with terms of use that are less invasive than the new Instragram policies.

There are others out there but remember, always read the terms of use and choose one that offers a privacy option where users can decide if they want their personal photos made public or to be kept private to be shown to who the users chooses.

Once a photo is made public it is out there on the web for anyone to see or to use.