Friday, December 21, 2012

Lemming Tracks: Instagram; Intellectual Property; and Underage Models

"Instagram says it now has the right to sell your photos"
Declan McCullagh, (December 17, 2012)

"In its first big policy shift since Facebook bought the photo-sharing site, Instagram claims the right to sell users' photos without payment or notification. Oh, and there's no way to opt out...."

"Privacy and Terms of Service Changes on Instagram" (December 16, 2012)

"Our community has grown a lot since we wrote our original terms of service. To get things up to date for the millions of people now using Instagram, we’re bringing you new versions of our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

"Here are a few key updates:
  • "Nothing has changed about your photos’ ownership or who can see them.
  • Our updated privacy policy helps Instagram function more easily as part of Facebook by being able to share info between the two groups. This means we can do things like fight spam more effectively, detect system and reliability problems more quickly, and build better features for everyone by understanding how Instagram is used.
  • "Our updated terms of service help protect you, and prevent spam and abuse as we grow.
"This is just a small preview. Our new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service will be effective on January 16, 2013.

"We know these documents are a little dry, but they’re very important. Please take a moment to read through them so you keep feeling comfortable sharing your beautiful photos on Instagram."

So far, the Lemming couldn't see anything alarming. But Instagram included two links, and the Lemming thought Terms of Service might have something interesting.

The Lemming was right.

Ownership, Rights, and 'Under 18'

"Terms of Use" (effective on January 16, 2013)

"By accessing or using the Instagram website, the Instagram service, or any applications...

  1. "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, except that you can control who can view certain of your Content and activities on the Service as described in the Service's Privacy Policy, available here:
  2. "Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you. If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to this provision (and the use of your name, likeness, username, and/or photos (along with any associated metadata)) on your behalf...."
The Lemming has run into, and occasionally used, free services which pay their bills by using their users' content for marketing and advertising. That condition is no problem for the Lemming, since much of what the Lemming produces helps the Lemming - no matter where it's displayed.

Not everybody is like the Lemming, thankfully. Who needs a world full of flannel-clad lemmings? CNET's Declan McCullagh has a point: folks who don't want their photos used to sell some product probably don't want to use Instagram.

For the Lemming, it's an academic point. The Lemming doesn't use Instagram. Folks who do - probably want to re-think using that particular service.

The really interesting part, from the Lemming's point of view, is "...If you are under the age of eighteen (18)...." Using underage models for advertising, even with the safeguards Instagram has in that agreement, seems to be asking for trouble. In the Lemming's opinion.

Daft Contracts, the Government, and the Lemming

Springing surprises like Instagram's new Terms of Service on customers and clients is one thing. Folks can often find another business that isn't quite so clueless about what folks do - and don't - expect.

When a government starts, ah, 'protecting' folks - that's another topic.

(A tip of the hat to CNET, on Google+, for the heads-up on Instagram's new policy.)

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