Today I saw a heavy amount of discussion about the usage rights for images posted on Instagram, and my reaction was the same all the time: “O rly? Why now?”
If one really thinks about the topic, at least I can’t help myself but to burst into laugh.
This topic, as serious as it is, should have been in everyones mouth for a long time, because facebook and other services are using the same methods as Instagram is adopting now for a long time now. Newspapers all around the world are making a big deal out of Instagram, and as good as this is in theory, most of them forget to list one of the biggest gangsters in this mess – themselves.
In some cases you’ll find the link to send them a “readers photo” right next to the article, ironic.
These newspapers are companies too, some larger some smaller and they started using these (mostly) low-quality, mobilephone-photos from readers years ago, because it’s cheap for them.
While the reward-systems each newspaper uses vary (some pay small sums, others have long contests for which the winner gets a small sum¹) quite a bit, they all have one thing in common:
They get thousands of images to choose from – for free.
For me personally there are two important notes for two mostly unrelated groups of people here:
- The consuming customer:
Are you upset, because Instagram changed it’s policy and yet sending photos to your local newspaper effectively paying them, yet doing all their work for them? Think twice!
- The professional customer²:
Want an easy solution for x and this company y provides just that including hosting your files? Think twice!
If you really want to be on the safe side, get a solution, where the data stays under your control. You never know when things are going to change with those companies.
It might cost you a little, but in the end it’s all a matter of: “You get what you pay for.”
I have always avoided any service like that, especially if it was “free”. Everything has it’s price.
Personally I rarely hesitate to spend a little extra, if in return I retain total control over my data and in theory also retain the right to decide who gets to use it. (See also my previous post.)
(The web is heavily used as one big content-stealing platform, but that’s nothing new.)
¹These contests often last between 1 to 3 months and the winner gets 150€ or less.
²Unlikely in the case of Instagram