On Monday the mobile photo-sharing service Instagram, now owned by Facebook, announced a major overhaul to its terms of service, stating it has the perpetual right to sell its users' photographs without payment or notification.
Taking effect January 16, 2013, the new policy says it will have the perpetual right to license all public Instagram photos to companies or any other organization, including for advertising purposes, "which would effectively transform the Web site into the world's largest stock photo agency," as CNET notes.
The dry language in the new Terms of Service may be confusing to some users, but essentially it states the company may accept payment in exchange for the use of a person's username, likeness, photos and other data for sponsored content or promotions, CBS News writes.
"That means that a hotel in Hawaii, for instance, could write a check to Facebook to license photos taken at its resort and use them on its Web site, in TV ads, in glossy brochures, and so on -- without paying any money to the Instagram user who took the photo," CNET writes.
Also worth noting, CNET adds, is if Instagram users continue to upload photos after January 16, 2013, and then delete their account after the deadline, they may have granted Facebook an irrevocable right to sell those images in perpetuity.
On forums such as reddit, users complain this new policy gives Instagram and Facebook too much power over a user's photos. Remarking on the public nature of Instagram's service, one commenter writes, "Public is fine and all, but when someone uses something to make money, you'd think the original creator (if you want to call Instagramming creating), should have a say in it."
Deleting your Instagram account but saving your photos
In order to kill your Instagram account, you might want to download your photos first. A service such as Instaport can download your entire Instagram photo library in just a few minutes, as Wired notes.
You then need to notify Instagram you plan to delete your account by going here. Realize, though, Instagram can't reactivate deactivated accounts and you will not be able to sign up for Instagram later with the same account name.
Instagram boasts more than 100 million users and 58 photos are uploaded to Instagram every second. In April 2012, Facebook bought the photo service for $1 billion.