This big picture grab by Instagram sparked a firestorm of protest on the web today, including some threatening words from National Geographic.
First, though, here’s an excerpt from Instagram’s revised Terms of Service:
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.
Instagram does NOT claim ANY ownership rights in the text, files, images, photos, video, sounds, musical works, works of authorship, applications, or any other materials (collectively, “Content”) that you post on or through the Instagram Services. By displaying or publishing (“posting”) any Content on or through the Instagram Services, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, worldwide, limited license to use, modify, delete from, add to, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce and translate such Content, including without limitation distributing part or all of the Site in any media formats through any media channels, except Content not shared publicly (“private”) will not be distributed outside the Instagram Services.
Late today, National Geographic posted this:
Here’s what puzzling: National Geographic’s Your Shot feature — which enables amateur photographers to share their photographs on the NGS website — includes the following language in its Terms of Service:
5. You retain all of your ownership rights in material you upload, comments you post, or other content you provide to the Site (“User Content”). By uploading User Content, however, you grant National Geographic (which includes its subsidiaries, affiliates, joint venturers, and licensees) the following rights: a royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual license to display, distribute, reproduce, and create derivatives of the User Content, in whole or in part, without further review or participation from you, in any medium now existing or subsequently developed, in editorial, commercial, promotional, and trade uses in connection with NG Products. National Geographic may license or sublicense, in whole or in part, to third parties rights in User Content as appropriate to distribute, market, or promote such NG Products. ….”
Which begs the question: Why is it okay for National Geographic to profit from pictures uploaded by amateur photographers to Your Shot, but it’s not okay for Instagram to profit from photos uploaded by National Geographic?
Happily, the fix for Your Shot is an easy one: National Geographic should revise its Terms of Service, and share any revenues generated by Your Shot photographs with the people who actually took and submitted the pictures. Say, 80% to the photographer, 20% to the Society. But only NGS members would be eligible to participate in this revenue sharing, which would give people an incentive to join our Society.
Who knows? Maybe that’s the sort of benefit that Amy Maniatis will offer when the Society’s new membership program is rolled out in… well, it should be very soon.