On December 17, Instagram announced new Terms of Service that would include allowing the company to use uploaded photos in its own advertising. The new language also appeared to allow Instagram to use uploaded images in third-party ads — earning money for Instagram — without explicit permission and with no compensation to the photographer. The photo community’s negative reaction was immediate, and a day later Instagram apologized publicly for any misunderstandings and said it would modify the new rules.
After considering the situation and discussing it with our fellow trade associations, ASMP and PPA, NPPA, PACA, APA and GAG have issued a statement to the press and have sent the statement to Instagram in the hope of beginning a dialog. The statement reads, in part, “We are pleased that Instagram is listening to the complaints and we are willing to work with them and review any proposed terms to avoid new terms that are confusing or misleading. For example, it is unreasonable to expect any content creator to have obtained releases from third parties depicted in the content, or to indemnify Instagram for any third party rights for any commercial use of the content.” See the full statement at http://bit.ly/UTRq1I.
ASMP has concerns about the future terms of social media sites. According to Executive Director Eugene Mopsik, ” All of the major social media sites are for-profit operations and as such, must ultimately monetize their platforms to earn revenue, and many will turn to images to do so. As an association of photographers who earn their living by licensing the use of their images, ASMP urges all social media sites to adopt fair and businesslike terms of service including user opt-in options as well as compensation for images used.”
The Instagram action is symptomatic of a much larger issue for imaging professionals. It serves to place a spotlight on those businesses whose life’s blood is based on the use, transmission or display of images monetized through fees or advertising without any income share to the rights holders. Photographers simply need some fair and reasonable portion of the revenue stream created by these businesses in order to sustain their livelihoods. Everything cannot be free, especially to the parties who earn significant revenue from the use of our images.
ASMP will continue to monitor the situation, keep members informed and speak out on your behalf.