Instagram changes terms of service, but will pro photographers flee anyway?

Instagram | Read Write Web | Time | The Verge

Instagram says it's going to delete language from its new terms of service that caused widespreading out-freaking across the Internet.

The language we proposed ... raised [the] question about whether your photos can be part of an advertisement. We do not have plans for anything like this and because of that we’re going to remove the language that raised the question.

The photo-sharing service might not need to worry about losing food-snapping schmoes, John Paul Titlow writes, but it should fret about professional photographers fleeing:

Many photojournalists and other pros had trouble warming up to Instagram in the first place, assuaged only by its rapid rise and guarantee of a sizable audience. It's a great marketing tool for photographers, but ceases to be worth it once Instagram starts monetizing their work without compensating them.

Philadelphia photographer Neal Santos tells Titlow he's thinking of leaving.

Time magazine used Instagram to help it cover Hurricane Sandy. It asked photographers what they thought of the changes. "What they have done is signaled the end and failure of what could have been a revolutionary social media platform for visual communication. Now, I must take a step back and reassess my place on Instagram," Ben Lowy writes. "I will have to dramatically reduce my posts on Instagram under the new terms of service," Brooks Kraft says. "In the end, I may just close my account."

In a monstrously unscientific poll, I asked three photographers I know about their plans. One hadn't really messed with the app but the other two told me they are planning to leave the service, including Politico photographer Jay Westcott.

"Can't believe they want to do this," he writes in an email. "It's an unreal rights grab."

But Instagram "always had the right to use your photos in ads, almost any way it wants," The Verge's Nilay Patel writes. "We could have had exact same freakout last week, or a year ago, or the day Instagram launched." The new terms actually limit commercial use of users' photos. Patel does ding the service for rolling out the new TOS in such a clumsy manner. The hubbub, he says, really shows "how little we trust [Instagram owner] Facebook to do the right thing."

"Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos," co-founder Kevin Systrom wrote in Instagram's blog post. "Nothing about this has changed."

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


Related News

Email IconGroup 3Facebook IconLinkedIn IconsearchGroupTwitter IconGroup 2YouTube Icon