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Instagram faces terms of service debacle class action suit

updated 05:30 pm EST, Mon December 24, 2012

California-filed suit claims breach of contract, privacy violations

A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed in San Francisco Federal Court on Friday, the first civil lawsuit prompted by the flip-flop in Instagram's terms of service over the last week. A California Instagram user is accusing the photo repository of breach of contract along several other claims relating to privacy and user data. Instagram has not commented on the suit.

Following the poorly received change in the terms of service publicized by Instagram last week, founder Kevin Systrom posted a retraction, removing the language that generated suspicion that it would be selling user photos without paying, or notifying the user in advance. It also introduced a mandatory arbitration clause, requiring users give up rights to participate in a class action lawsuit against the company.

The post on the company blog moving back to the old terms of service does not say that the company is going to stop monetizing user's photographs. The original language in the terms of service (now back in force) states that "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, subject to the Service's Privacy Policy."

The lawyers filing the suit believed that customers who do not agree with the newly revised terms are allowed to cancel accounts, but then forfeit rights to photos stored on the service. The lawsuit claims that "In short, Instagram declares that 'possession is nine-tenths of the law and if you don't like it, you can't stop us.'"

by MacNN Staff



  1. And.reg

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 02-22-04

    Newb question: What is instagram, and why has it been under such fire for months? I haven't cared to pay attention to it but it sounds like a big deal.

  1. Malcolm Owen

    Electronista Staff

    Joined: 07-18-12

    Originally Posted by AndrejView Post

    Newb question: What is instagram, and why has it been under such fire for months? I haven't cared to pay attention to it but it sounds like a big deal.

    It's a photo-based social network that relies on apps to post filtered images onto it. The filters give a sort of "hipster cool" to otherwise mundane imagery. Posted images can also be put onto Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr at the same time. Facebook bought it for (at the time but now lower) $1 billion, and now it's under a lot of scrutiny.

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