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Geek Chic

Instagate: Much ado about nothing

12/26/2012

The popular photo-sharing website Instagram modified its legal terms of service last week causing insta-outrage across the Internet. Many interpreted it as Instagram allowing itself to “sell” users’ images to third parties, as in, transfer copyright and ownership. This caused so much backlash that the Instagram “export” service, Copygram, was quoted in the New York Times saying its website received “a thousand percent more activity than we’re used to.”                

As it would happen, nothing has actually changed in Instagram’s TOS. The language was modified to actually be clearer, but the sentiment has always been the same. Instagram reserves the right to use any user-submitted image to advertise its sponsors, much like Facebook’s (Instagram’s owners since September) sponsored posts. Like Facebook before it, Instagram is able to lend a user-submitted photo to a sponsor’s advertisement. Instagram allows users to tag their locations (the venues they are at) in the image, and if that venue wants to pay to be in everyone’s feed or be a suggested user, they will have access to photos taken there. The venue pays Instagram for the advertisement space, and that money goes into operation and paying employees. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, no matter what filter you use.                

There’s really no sense in getting upset about this revelation. There are very few services that host your files for free and expect nothing in return. The only major service that allows users to specifically manage copyright is Flickr, the oft-forgotten site that is now eight years old but languishing in obscurity after its acquisition by Yahoo! Flickr could really use the attention, but it will have to hold after people realize once again that they probably don’t care about their pictures of chicken wings being used to advertise a restaurant. CV

Robert Anhalt is Director of Content at Geek Speak Forum and contributes to Cityview.

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