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Open Source Instagram

So it looks like the Instagram/Facebook mashup is about to kick copyright law squarely in the teeth : read this excellent post on http://mashable.com/2012/12/17/instagram-signs-your-life-away/ : but the meat on the bone is this language in the terms of use about to be foisted on all instagram users (here’s the link to the policy): “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.”

Nothing new here except that a couple of over-valued dot.com land sharks are going for the jugular. I believe in copyright as stated by the U.S. Copyright office in particular this statement: “Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is cre­ated in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who cre­ated the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright”. In fact, as a photographer I have worked under this precept my entire career – if I push the button, I own the picture. Done deal. Even if you are paying me good money for me to push the button, I still own the picture and I am licensing its use to you. Done deal.

So I’m not going to fight Instagram and Facebook – it’s likely a losing proposition as they have all the money in the world. And I likely won’t stop using them, though I may be adjusting my use significantly. Both sites are good tools for telling stories with photos and for promoting one’s self as an image-maker. They are also fun – I enjoy the social response to a good instagram photo – the likes, comments, and shares.

What I am more interested in now is an idea – the idea behind the promise of open source and creative commons. At Studio Two, my design agency, we build websites using wordpress – the .org version which is open source and free to use. We like wordpress because a vast community of programmers, users, hackers and technologist out there in the cloud are constantly working, battling, and fiddling with the source code and each other and generally making it better – the wordpress we use today looks like the one we used 5 years ago but now has so many more functions, enhancements, and qualities. What I also like is that it continues to evolve – all the time – and the evolutionary traits get passed on to websites I have designed through routine updates. Technically speaking, a wordpress site I build today, with the necessary updates applied, will still be a fully-functional website in 10 or 20 years – assuming that we still use something like the web!

So open source community – lets build a new Instagram – one that isn’t owned by anyone, one that distributes the load in intelligent ways to our own personal storage in the cloud, and one that allows us all the richness of community, of sharing, or communicating – but also one that honors the rights of the creators – us – to own the fruits of our labors.

Where do we start? Oh – guess what – it’s already out there: Anypic.org

I think I’ll be switching. Join me there?

UPDATE – Instagram changes some of their language…..

1 Comment

  • Plain and simple GREED. FB executives should have paid more mind to the Instagram business plan before they paid $1B for the App. At such a price tag it is clear they are in it to make money but its a bit late for them to backtrack now and revise the usage terms in their favor by exploiting the user base that made the App valuable in the first place. As an Instagram user I find it preposterous that FB should claim rights to my images and that of its global user base. The success of the App is based on the simplicity of sharing photos and creating a visually stimulating expression of one’s life and experiences – for Free. The new Terms of Service will thwart Creativity and squelch the enjoyment of its users. It is doubtful many people will willingly agree to be un-compensated for their intellectual property and the images “they own.” There is no gain for the amateur and professional users so why continue to participate under the revised terms to enable FB and its third parties to claim rights to content posted for their monetary and promotional gain.

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