EDIT 19/12/12: Instagram has responded.
Though the language they use seems to want to overly passify rather than address issues. "Your photos are your photos and we respect that." is a nice sentiment but does not necessarily exclude "we have the right to license and use your stuff even though you own the content" By signing up to instagram you are giving them permission to do this even though you do technically own the content you are submitting.
I'm not going to flail my arms about doom, but I will say, artists be aware. Not just about this, but about any contracts you sign. There is some real sketchy language in the fine print here that needs to be clarified or changed as of right now. More than just an "everything's fine, don't worry" letter. Company lawyers have a tendency to try to take the largest chunk of whatever they can, and only back off when their actions are made public and they are pressured into doing so. As artists, it is our job to push back and demand reasonable terms for both us as the end user and them as a profit-driven business. Educate yourself about copyright law and read the fine print. Make informed choices. Protect and value your work.
Look out, Photographers, it's time for some corporate policy changes that affect us all.
Instagram has changed its policy so that they can sell your photos without paying you or notifying you.
- On January 16th 2013, these policy changes take effect. Accounts created and content uploaded after January 16th will have these policies apply to them.
- Deleting your content or account after January 16th does not necessarily terminate Instagram's claim to ownership of your content.
- Instagram claims the right to license (sell) your photos to businesses for use. They do not have to notify you or pay you for you content.
- Instagram removes itself from liability such as class action lawsuits, including making formerly private photos public.
Those are just the main points of danger for an artist, but I fully reccommend reading the full article. Here is another article. Now that you've seen the language, take a breath. It's not time to panic just yet. Just because Instagram has drafted this kind of legal language, doesn't necessarily mean they will personally hunt down your private photos, sell them to an ad company and make zillions of dollars off of it. They merely claim the right to do so.
This is what artists should be mad about. That even if they don't follow through with their terms, the terms they are setting are unreasonable and hurt artists in pursuit of corporate profit.
Mad enough to do something about it? All right.
You can Tweet Kevin Systrom (CEO, co-founder) or Mike Krieger (co-founder) about the policy changes and how they affect you as an artist.
You can Write them a letter about it.
Something along the lines of:
To Whom This May Concern,
I have read the new Instagram policy changes for 2013, and I am deeply concerned.
As an artist, I believe that content submitters should have the option to opt out of commercial use of their content.
Artists should be notified and asked permission if a commercial party wishes to use their content for advertising.
Artists should have the right to refuse commercial use to anyone for any reason.
Artists should be compensated fairly for use of their content and maintain legal ownership of the intellectual property.
Your future policy changes are unacceptable.
Because Instagram forces these policy changes onto users with no option for termination, I will be deleting my Instagram account and removing all of my content before January 16, 2013 to prevent retroactive ownership of my content.
(Last bit optional. You can write whatever you want, but try to avoid petty name-calling.)
I want you to feel empowered as an artist. Someone who has control over the content that you produce. I'm not asking you to do any of this as a favour to me. I just want you to be informed and able to take action if you feel strongly enough about the situation. Believe it or not, your voice does matter. Enough focused activism can change corporate policy for the better.
Good luck and own your art!
EDIT: Here is a Wired article that shows you how to download all of your photos and delete your account if you're interested.