Instagram/Facebook Apologizes. Backs Off New Policy to Hijack Your Photos

Posted Dec. 19th, 2012 by Daniel J. Cox

Seems Facebook’s social media reach worked against them this time. You can read the apology from Instagram here. Yesterday, I was made aware of Instagram/Facebook’s (Facebook owns Instagram) new Terms and Conditions that stipulated posting any photos to the Instagram site gave Instagram all rights, commercial and otherwise, to those images forever. You can read more in my original post. These rights included being able to sell those pictures to anybody they wanted, with no recourse available to the person who owned the photos and no compensation for the sale of those images to the rightful owner. In a nut shell,  they were in the process of starting their own private Stock Photo Agency, by way of stealing the images their users had provided. This proves two very important points. One, photography is worth substantial amounts of money and two, there may be some truth in the unethical accusations made by the Winklevoss Twins. Mr. Zuckerburg once commented on the fact that FB is providing a free service so they should have the right to try and monetize it in any way they see fit. My response to that is, I’ve spent nearly $1000.00 this past year advertising with Facebook. That’s a legitimate way to monetize your business as opposed to the old fashioned art of stealing from your supporters.

Multibillion dollar business guy Mark Zuckerberg tries to put the screws to all is Instagram photographers. Not so fast buddy, we're not as dumb as you think.

Multibillion dollar business guy Mark Zuckerberg tries to put the screws to all his recently acquired Instagram photographers. I say, “Not so fast buddy, we’re not as dumb as you think”

Thankfully, Facebook’s immense reach and ability to spread the word was their downfall. Facebook/Instagram backed off the recently updated Terms and Conditions for Instagram that contained the offensive rights grab. A big hearty thanks to all of you who took to the social media sphere and voiced your concerns. Those pictures are yours and why should anybody have the right to take them and make money without your consent and compensation to you? Unfortunately, photographers have always been considered poor business people but those of you who stood up for the rights of your pictures, consider yourself on the road to becoming proficient in business.

Being good in the world of business is an honorable aspiration. By knowing when to stand your ground and get paid for what you do, you also gain the flexibility of being generous in other avenues of your life. In my case it’s my work with Polar Bears International/Arctic Documentary Project and many other nonprofit organizations that are important to me. Without the ability to make a living selling pictures, running photography workshops, etc., I would have no capacity to donate the time and efforts my office does to the nonprofits we think are doing important work. Instagram/Facebook, owned by a phenomenal businessman named Mark Zuckerberg, is not on my list of charities and therefore does not qualify for receiving the use of images for no charge. My point is, there are a lot of avenues to be generous with your photos, but giving them to multibillion dollar corporations, like Facebook, is not good business in any way.

Thanks again for all of you who stood up for your rights as individuals and quality photographers. Now if we could just get Facebook to stop stripping all Contact Information from the photos we upload. That’s my next goal. I’m hopeful all who voiced your concerns on the rights grab will help me raise this issue with Facebook as well. Lets get this one important change made now that we have some momentum.

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There are 4 comments on this post…
  1. Ian EnrightOn Dec. 19th, 2012

    I agree. I think Zuckerberg is smart enough to realize he could really mess up his business model if he resorts to these type of tactics. I suspect he’s really under a lot of pressure as his stock continues to disappoint compared to the hype. This has been so mishandled it’s amazing they thought it would fly.

    A friend reminded me of the saying “If you don’t pay for it you’re not the customer”. Words I’ll remember as I use “free” sites.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Dec. 19th, 2012

      Ian, I agree about getting nothing for free but Zuckerburg is getting paid by the new advertising system they’ve put in place. Without all the eyeballs Facebook provides, nobody would be interested in advertising. The only way you get eyeballs is to offer something for free and then charge the guys like me to get ads in front to of them. I think Zuckerburgs lack of understanding, of the new world of business and advertising, he made another major blunder. Even my business has changed. I used to never give anything for free unless it was for a nonprofit we were working with such as Polar Bears International and the Arctic Documentary Project . But today, we (Natural Exposures) do lots of things for free, including all the work that goes into this Blog. Nobody pays me for this, it’s all free to anyone interested in taking a look and joining the discussions. This all helps to bring people to our site to hopefully see the great trips we offer that we actually charge for. It’s a brave new world in how we all try to find people who are interested in our products. Zuckerberg just keeps screwing up.

  2. Ian EnrightOn Dec. 19th, 2012


    I applaud your efforts bringing this to light and am glad that the word spread fast enough to send an important message to Zuckerberg.

    It certainly raises some important questions in the “new economy” and what is “fair” practice. I somewhat smirk when I hear people outraged that Google electronically “reads” your email and pushes advertising to your portal. I think that’s fair. If someone doesn’t like it they don’t have to use this “free” service. Do people really expect companies to spend billions on infrastructure to provide such a service and not benefit from it in some way?

    On the other hand I don’t believe it’s fair that any site can “steal” or assume your copyrights, etc. for photos or other creative objects.

    Ultimately maybe it gets down to transparency and choice. Perhaps Zuckerberg does have the right to push the fairness bounds on a for-profit site as long as he makes it very transparent to me as a consumer what the implications or “fee” for using his sites. Then I also have the right as a consumer never to use his services.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Dec. 19th, 2012

      Thanks for your input Ian. I too thought about Zuckerberg’s point of view, but that was before I realized I could actually pay Facebook to promote certain posts. He has a great advertising system in place now, which we partake in quite regularly. It’s a very slick and easy system and I’m happy to pay for the promotional advertising. However, if I decide I don’t want my personal materials stolen, and FB continues doing the things they seem to regularly do, you can bet I won’t be using FB to advertise anymore. So…. Zuckerberg best decide what’s more important dollar wise. I know I have and I’ll be voting by taking my business to Google+. Already headed in that direction. Will probably stay on Facebook but will continue to post mainly just people photos, ready to bail on a moments notice when he decides to do something similar. Time will tell.

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