The first thing they teach us as kids in kindergarten is to share. So is it any wonder why in the digital world people are so open to sharing their photos and personal details on the internet. Sharing is in our DNA.
Instagram tossed a grenade into the photo sharing world on Monday Dec. 17, 2012 with controversial changes to their Terms of Service. Professional and amateur photographers around the world flipped their wigs over the changes.
Here is a concise explanation of the changes via lightbox.time.com by Adam McCauley
“According to the changes, effective January 16, 2013, any photograph posted on Instagram’s service can be repackaged and sold by Instagram for advertising purposes without the user’s knowledge or consent. In addition, by agreeing to the new terms, users are responsible for any legal claims that may result from the promotion or use of their images.
Long story short: Instagram can use your content to increase their revenue, and if a legal claim is brought against the company regarding how these images have been used, you (the user) might be responsible for the damages.”
Instagram reacted within 24-hours to the firestorm of complaints and they are “listening.” http://blog.instagram.com/post/38252135408/thank-you-and-were-listening
I have my concerns about Instagram’s decision but I do think the photography world needs to take a deep breath and look for perspective while we await Instagram’s next move.
Instagram is a wonderful tool to SHARE your visual thoughts in the same way Twitter is a wonderful way to share your thoughts and opinions. It’s a wonderful way to get some feedback on a boring day. So at its core Instagram is a free sharing service. It’s not your personal website, It’s not your PhotoShelter site, It’s not your company’s file server, It’s a sharing site/method and It’s a free sharing service to boot.
As a professional photographer I post all sorts of images at http://instagram.com/tmizener/ but nothing I would be worried about being monetized by Instagram. My concerns fall with the legal implications of my photo being used. I am not going to rush to judgement on the New Terms because and my guess they are going to change.
Instagram’s ham-handed roll out of the “New Terms of Service” reminds me of Netfix’s PR nightmare last year when they botched the attempt to split their DVD and Streaming video services. Instagram will respond to their user’s complaints and I firmly believe they will amend their amendments. That all being said – who really thought these guys invented Instagram out of the goodness of their heart? Not me. So I am never surprised when this stuff happens. Someone has to pay the light bill. I am just glad the photo community rose up to keep Instagram on their toes. However, I think the people who deleted their accounts in a fit of rage might have jumped the gun. Everyone needs to kick back have a glass of wine, post it on Instagram and wait to see if Instagram can avoid driving their business over the cliff and into internet oblivion.