Instagram Can Now Sell Your Images Without Your Knowledge

Instagram Can Now Sell Your Images Without Your Knowledge

Instragram just updated their new terms of service today, and the fine print, while not shocking, certainly is concerning especially if you use the service to show off your work.  Instagram has stated that starting on Jan. 16 the service will be able to use and sell your images for advertising without your knowledge and without offering compensation leaving users with the short end of the stick. 

When you first read the new terms of service nothing seems to be out of the ordinary until you reach the 'rights' portion of the TOS. It explains what users of the service have authority over and in return what Instagram can do with publicly posted data specifically concerning advertising. While it says that you retain copyright of any material that's posted (as long as you rightfully own it), you will be giving Instagram a royalty-free and no limits license to use anything you post as long as it's posted publicly.

"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:"


watermark woes

It later states that anything you post, including your display name, photos (including metadata), likeness, and/or actions can be sold by Instagram to other parties or companies to be used for advertising without any compensation to you or without your knowledge of the exchange/sale.

"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.

You acknowledge that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such."


keep calm till jan 16th

 Now, before you start a filter pack panic realize that Instagram is a wide and vast place on the internet and over 4 billion photos and other data have been posted to the site. The chances of your data being used is slim, but the possibility is out there, and therein lies the problem. So, unless  your posts are kept completely private you're open to having your photos ripped off and sold to any company that Instagram sees fit, without a paycheck or even a polite, 'Hey, we're selling your stuff, thanks buddy, Instagram out, peace.'

With Facebook now owning Instagram and having over 300 million photos posted each day it leads to believe that this may be a direction that the internet ruler (or dark lord) is heading towards in the near future. Perhaps it's time to dust off that good ole' Facebook copyright notice hoax and tuck it safely away for safe keeping. Not that it would do any good when it announces it now owns your soul.


facebook hoax

I use Instagram to post my kids' silliness, co-workers being epic or meh... or sometimes epically meh. I also use it every time I'm shooting a DJ just for kicks. Looks like those days are behind me.

instagram nom nom nom

How do you feel about your Instagram images being sold without being asked or more importantly... compensated?


Log in or register to post comments


Lenny Glickman's picture

Not OK

Chris Burke's picture

I'm pretty upset about this.. I've for some pretty cool images on Instagram that look great when printed.. They didn't start out that way.. It was usually a shot I took with my iphone, then played around with in snapseed and it ended up looking really cool.. While its unlikely, this means they COULD sell a pic of my kid.. And I'm not happy about that.. Why does Suckerberg have to go and ruin things that are working... Apparently he doesn't believe in the saying "if it ain't broke don't fix it" his motto must be "if its working great, lets see how we can piss off our users

Lee Montes's picture

this is plain wrong...  especially if they start to display and sell minor's photos...  that is just not right...

Martin Beebee's picture

Without model releases, it seems like they're asking for a world of legal trouble. (Not to mention subjecting photographers to potential litigation.) Instagram sells photo of person (with no model release) to company who uses it in advertisement = instant lawsuit by person in photo. It doesn't even matter if the photographer willingly  grants usage of the photo to Instagram -- without a model release, it best not be used for commercial purposes.

good luck fighting a company with a team of lawyers.

Michael Kormos's picture

Well, it's a free service.  How do you think they make money?  Someone's gotta pay for all that storage and bandwidth. They wouldn't be very profitable if they had to track down the author of each image, ask their permission, and compensate them.  Love it or hate it, if you use a free service, be prepared to pay, in other ways.  I don't see what all the fuss is about.

IAM_THE_KGB's picture

With all due respect, you are an idiot if you can't see "what all the fuss is about".

PhotoPunk's picture

Keep sucking up to "the Man" and you will go broke with all the other sheep!

Rob LaRosa's picture

 No one is saying they can make money with ads, but they don't have to use their user's images (for free) to do so.

Pratik Naik's picture

Zuckerberrrgggggg! *fist shake*

Michael Turcotte's picture

The Rebecca Brit FB post you have has no force in law.

I wonder how much the first lawsuit will bring? 

Rebecca Britt's picture

Yeah that was meant as a joke. LOL!

Anthony Tripoli's picture

"z0mg who caresssssssss?!?! instagram succcckkkkksssss anyway. filters are soooo0o lame"

Rebecca Britt's picture

z0mg I gotz hit in the face with some troll pie! I'm down, *weezes* tell my kids... I love them. *gasps* DEAD by trollz.

Patrick Gladieux's picture

Im just glad I stopped using it.

Dragos Putureanu's picture

Not cool.

I mainly post my work on there, and I don't want to put a logo dead center on every image I post.

All I gotta say is,    :(

Chuck Navarro's picture

It's just to protect their own ass from us or anyone suing them for anything we post.  This is the same reason Facebook has a similar clause. Just like any free online service, if you don't like their rules then don't play their game.

Geoff Lister's picture

No other service has as overbearing a policy though, Facebook tried a few years back but stopped, quickly, when they realized the backlash.

I don't really care because I don't post my professional work on there.. as well as the fact that myself and almost every single other person in the world who uses Instagram will still continue to use it. I can guarantee you millions of people won't be deleting their accounts because of this.. after all they're just flippin camera phone photos.

And side note, if any of my material ended up in advertising I wouldn't care, actually I'd be stoked to see it out there! I don't want any money. It took me 30 seconds for me to take, edit and post that photo, I'm not going to start demanding money from something that took me no time at all.

Stefano Druetta's picture

WTF dude
IDEAS. ideas. and content. that's what matters. time is a consequence. 
if someone wants that picture to show off some product or service, it means it's worth, no matter the time spent to create it. 
there is some kind of time value behind it, wich is the time spent learning and improving yourself to the point that someone will pay somebody for a picture of yours. even if taken with a phone.. don't you see it? i work as a commercial photographer too [being portraiture my first "skill"], from time to time i shoot some still life, wich literally takes me roughly 2 hours to set up and 10 minutes shooting+editing for each piece or product. that means one day of work can produce big money, 4-500€ per hour. is it fair? i think so. my clients are gonna raise even bigger money based on the quality of their products pictures. 
so your thoughts are unfair to the rest of us working that field. and that's the reason why many photography businesses aren't business no more. but i'm ok with it :) 3000 years ago, being able to write and read was a job indeed, now we all do, pretty much, and that's ok right? it seems that Benjamin's prophecy is actually right..

Michael Wessel's picture

Just camera phones? It doesn't matter what camera the photo was taken with, like Stefano says it's about the ideas, creativity, and content that went into the photo. Sure, lots of people run and gun photos on their cell phones, but the stuff they create is still theirs. Is it 'just' a polaroid camera? Is it 'just' a toy camera? Is it 'just' a cell phone camera?

You may be stoked to see your stolen work used in an advertisement but imagine if you're a professional and you make your living off of those photos...all the revenue is lost from that potential client. Sure you might get seen, but what kind of potential client seeing that photo in an ad is going to go through all the trouble to contact the company that used it who is going to have to contact Instagram to find out who took it when they can find an equivalent photographer through normal channels...a straight up lost sale. A stolen sale, rather.

Pim Yunyongkasamsuk's picture

I wonder what are the implication for brands who use this service?

Spy Black's picture

This might be a good thing. Maybe people now will just atop using this miserable service that has brought photography to Big Mac status.

Jens Marklund's picture

Regarding all photos pre and post January 16th?

I heard a friend of a friend who got in a Coca Cola advertisement, from one of her Facebook image.

Roman Kazmierczak's picture

I didn't like Instagram anyway. I use Camera+ and I upload to flickr account. I pay for it but I don't have to deal with this sh... I wish I could move away from FB. Hope one day there will be a big migration to something like Google+
Everyone could show middle finger to FB ;)

Geoff Lister's picture

Yes, because Google is such an angel when it comes to data usage :).

im absolutely disgusted.

im absolutely disgusted.

kris's picture

did i read correctly? Only public photos? As in, if the profile is private it's protected? I'm confused by everything I've read and this particular statement I just mentioned. 

More comments