Instagram’s New Policy To Steal Your Photos Returns

Posted Jan. 25th, 2013 by Daniel J. Cox

Instagram is at it again. They’re approaching their online community of professional photographers, photo enthusiasts, mom and pops, school kids and grannies, with a smile on their face and a hand shake. As their right hand squeezes down, like the grip of any crook who’s about to make off with a suitcase of cash,  their left hand reaches around to your backside, fingers gently massaging your wallet or purse as they extract your credit cards and all banking information. Oh…. and he also took your last five bucks for the latte you planned to buy at Starbucks as you walk back to your apartment because your old car is in the shop for repairs. Too bad Instagram and Facebook will be getting paid for your photographs and not you. Just think how good that latte would have tasted. Now quit whining and start walking. It’s cold out here.

Ok, wakeup and smell the coffee, my little creative writing exercise is over.

Here's the guy squeezing your right hand as he extracts cash from your pocket with his left hand. He's the multibillion dollar business guy Mark Zuckerberg the one who owns Instagram. .

Here’s the guy squeezing your right hand as he extracts cash from your pocket with his left hand. He’s the multibillion dollar business guy Mark Zuckerberg – the one who owns Instagram.

Now go get your latte with a double shot to get your adrenaline running so you can write Instagram to inform them you won’t be accepting their newly updated Terms of Service. The newly revised version that still gives them the right to do whatever they want with YOUR photographs. Even if you don’t care to make money from your pictures, do you want your private collection of images available for ads like Viagra, alcoholic products or cigarette promotions? Just think, you might get lucky and have one of your images of dear old Grandpa used in an advertising campaign for Depends. Wouldn’t that be the talk at the family Christmas gathering?

Tell Instagram NO to the newly revised Terms of Service by sending an email to

As you may recall, this issue first came up a few weeks back. You can read more about the original Kerfuffle, as my Canadian wife would call it, in an earlier blog post titled: Instagram/Facebook Apologizes. Backs Off New Policy to Hijack Your Photos. In short, they have changed almost nothing to their updated Terms of Service that was the inspiration for the first round of outrage. I was alerted to the useless new language on their revised Terms of Service agreement by PhotoBizCoach Beate Chelette’s excellent blog. She does a great job explaining it all. Make sure you take a look.  Today it’s Instagram, most likely some time in the future it will be Facebook. Voice your displeasure to Instagram by sending them an email at

In conclusion, there is something very fishy going on behind this Instagram deal. My guess is someone, probably Getty Images, has offered Instagram an amazing amount of cash if they (Getty or whoever) can gain access to the Instagram collection of pictures. I’m guessing it’s a deal something similar to the sneaky, disgusting arrangement Getty just signed with Google. More info on that in the blog post, Google and Getty Continue to Destroy the ability to make a living selling photos.

It’s hard to believe the pressure currently going on to acquire FREE or nearly FREE images. Actually, that is a stupid statement on my part. I can believe it, based on the fact that I earned a serious income from selling images for nearly 25 years. But once the cat got out of the bag, where clients no longer had to pay for photography, that income stream has virtually evaporated. I offer this historical perspective to try and impress on those who don’t know the fact that photography is VALUABLE! That’s why these big companies like Getty, Google and now Instagram are doing all they can to get their hands on as much visual cash/photographs as they can steal. That’s what these deals are all about. CASH. Keep in mind it will only happen if photographers allow it. Now go get crazy and write an email to





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There are 11 comments on this post…
  1. James O'MalleyOn Mar. 5th, 2013

    Well, they may have revised their terms, but the terms still grant them rights including sub license worldwide…

    2013 Revised Instagram Rights

    Instagram does not claim ownership of any Content that you post on or through the Service. Instead, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service, subject to the Service’s Privacy Policy, available here, including but not limited to sections 3 (“Sharing of Your Information”), 4 (“How We Store Your Information”), and 5 (“Your Choices About Your Information”). You can choose who can view your Content and activities, including your photos, as described in the Privacy Policy.
    Some of the Service is supported by advertising revenue and may display advertisements and promotions, and you hereby agree that Instagram may place such advertising and promotions on the Service or on, about, or in conjunction with your Content. The manner, mode and extent of such advertising and promotions are subject to change without specific notice to you.
    You acknowledge that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such.

  2. JayRayOn Jan. 31st, 2013

    If you don’t want your photos stolen… don’t post them – ANYWHERE. It’s not rocket science.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 31st, 2013

      Everybody has an opinion and you have yours. If Facebook wants my dollars for advertising, I want to post my images. Your answer is the equivalent to telling stores at the mall to not be surprised if people walk off with their property just because its sitting out and easy to get at. Do you just walk off with somebody else’s property because its easy to take?

  3. Sean ArbabiOn Jan. 29th, 2013

    Thanks again for the additional info Daniel- I posted a blog on Instagram as well, and dumped my account too- hope millions do the same.

  4. Sandra BlairOn Jan. 29th, 2013

    Thanks Daniel, I had pretty much decided to remove most of my images and your reply really makes me feel this is the best decicision. I’ll simply post very low-res images with a distinct watermark and direct people to my site to see a better image. Images can’t be downloaded from my website so that’s a consolation! Thanks again.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 29th, 2013

      My pleasure Sandra, I appreciate your interest in taking a stand. sounds like you have a good strategy.

  5. Sandra BlairOn Jan. 29th, 2013

    I discovered this post on Facebook and since FB now owns Instafram, I checked their terms and they are the same:
    “For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License).”
    with no explanation of how the privacy settings impact this. As an artist and photographer, I’m very concderned and am wondering if I should remove all of my images from FB and just link to my website? Any thoughts?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 29th, 2013

      Sandra, thanks for the update. I don’t believe these Terms of Service were one in the same until recently. Good info and thanks for bringing that to my attention. I don’t post any of my best material on Facebook that is what I consider valuable but now that I know this I’ll most likely be reevaluating posting anything there in the future. I’m moving much of my Social Media over to Google+. Come join us.

  6. Charlotte LowrieOn Jan. 27th, 2013

    You are so right! Photography is becoming a commodity, and unless photographers stand up for the value of their work, no one will.

    Keep up the good work.


    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 27th, 2013

      Thanks for your input Charlotte. As I tell my students, “anyone can give anything away for free. Take pride in your work and request a fair and equatable price. If the inquiry leads to a sale, you know it really is good”. Instagram’s desire to get their hands on all these images is proof positive that photography has value. They see this as a great way to get an amazing amount of stock photography that THEY can make the money on and give nothing back to the photographer.

  7. Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

    Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 28th, 2013

    Thanks for kind comments and helping to spread the word Sean. Greatly appreciated. We need to nip this photo heist in the bud before this goes any further. You can bet, if Instagram pulls this off, the next step will be the same policy for Facebook.

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