The Bottom Line

Can you recall setting up your Instagram account? We all take care in the essentials such as creating a funky username, email address and a cheeky profile picture, something a little ‘unique’ or different to the classic selfie. Then it comes down to the nitty gritty, the “Terms and Conditions”. We’ve all seen it but how many of us have actually read it? I know personally I’m guilty to ticking the little box and continuing on with the fun stuff…

Before the breakthrough of social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram it was a common understanding that ownership of your creation was automatic. However, once we have agreed to the open content form of licensing held by Instagram we are agreeing to allow others to copy and modify our works. Floating around in that tini tiny font we all ignore to read Instagram’s rights and it immediately states,

“Instagram is 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” (Instagram, 2013)

In English this means that for users agreeing to the terms and conditions of Instagram, you will lose the exclusive right to use that content (Bartier Parry Pty Limited, 2013). You are also granting permission for Instagram and third-party groups to use the content however they please for free.

Until now I was completely in the dark and grasped no concept on the issue. However, since exploring deeper into how this system works I honestly have become very reluctant to post any material on social media sites. Apart from raising the obvious issues of money and payment, it also exploits ethical dilemmas of stealing and copyright and can make one question whether society can keep up with the rapidly evolving word of social media. Can traditional social constructs manage these arising issues?

In 2013 the UK Government passed an act called the ‘Instagram Act’, simply meaning that all your images now belong to everyone. The act allows widespread commercial exploitation of unidentified or ‘orphan works’, images where the right holders are unable to be contacted (The A Register, 2013). A very similar situation to how businesses and franchises use Instagram.

The benefits Instagram receive from using this form of licensing allows them to make commercial gain by licensing the images we provide for them.  The bottom line is we won’t get any compensation for our images and in the event money has to be returned to the advertiser we could be held liable even tho we were kept in the dark…

Be careful kids and think twice.

Delsack, C, 2012, Who Owns Photos and Videos Posted on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, Law Offices of Craig Delsack LLC, 30/3/2014,

Orlowski, A, 2013, UK GOV Passes Instagram Act: All Your Pics Belong to Everyone Now, The Register, 30/3/2014,

2013, Terms of Use, Instagram,  30/3/2014,

2013, We Promise We Probably Won’t Use It – Copyright Ownership on Social Media, Bartier Perry, 3/4/2014

2014, Instagram Statistics, Nitrogram, 3/4/2014,


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