Friday, December 28, 2012 - 00:38

Instagram doesn't want to own your photos. But owning was never the question.

A couple of days ago Instagram hit the big bucket with a change in their Terms of Service. The uproar didn't take long. Rowing back didn't either. But are they?

In their blog post Instagram says this

Nothing has changed about your photos’ ownership or who can see them.
And this is also the tone of Systrom who claims to have understood. And they are now working on an update to the update to remove this confusing language in the statement below
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

I don't see what's confusing with that unless Instagram's lawyers are completely retarded and unable to voice the company's intention.

Systrom states in his blog entry that this is all a big misunderstanding caused by confusing language. Their sole intention was to

experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram
and
To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos.

The point is that owning was never the question. And selling is a term often used in a non-legal way. The ToS do not say sell. They say sub-licensing and that's not really selling. And if Instagram wants to experiment with innovative advertising and use your photos in this context they most certainly have to sub-license them to the advertising party. If you buy a photo off of iStock you don't actually buy it as in owning it and thus iStock isn't selling it. You license it and iStock provides you with this license. Looks like Instagram's lawyer actually can voice the company's intention. It's just that users don't like these intentions.

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