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NatGeo Suspends New Posts To Instagram

National Geographic made a huge statement in the Instagram world Tuesday night by announcing that it:
“Is suspending new posts to Instagram. We are very concerned with the direction of the proposed new terms of service and if they remain as presented we may close our account”

The statement by NatGeo comes on the heels of a user backlash to a new proposed set of Instagram Terms of Service that many interpret as meaning Instragram can use a user’s photos for commercial purposes without compensating the user. Specifically, paragraphs 1 and 2 of the ‘Rights’ subsection in the Instagram Terms of Service provide, in relevant parts:

“1. 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:
2. 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.” (Emphasis added).

Instagram’s Kevin Systrom posted a blog stating that:
“…Since making these changes, we’ve heard loud and clear that many users are confused and upset about what the changes mean…

…Ownership RightsInstagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos. Nothing about this has changed. We respect that there are creative artists and hobbyists alike that pour their heart into creating beautiful photos, and we respect that your photos are your photos. Period….”
It is true that Instagram asserts that it does not claim ownership rights as stated in paragraph 1 of the Terms of Service above. However, that hair splitting of legal semantics by Systrom obviously did not sit so well with NatGeo.
A simple comparison would be that the licensing rights given by the user to Instagram are similar to a homeowner allowing Instagram to rent their house out to someone else whenever Instagram wants (and can sublet too), but the homeowner keeps the deed to the house.

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