Instagram asks court to throw out TOS lawsuit

Steven Loeb · February 14, 2013 · Short URL:

Suit goes back to Instagram's proposed policy changes from December

(Updated to reflect comment from Facebook)

Remember back when Instagram tried to update its privacy policy, causing the entire world to freak out, until Instagram apologized and reversed its decision? Feels like it was a really long time ago, even though that all happened less than two months ago! 

At least it feels that way to me. To others, the wounds are apparently still fresh, and they are still trying to sue the photo sharing app for the proposed changes. Instagram, however, wants no part of it.

The photo sharing app asked a federal court to throw out a lawsuit that was filed against it in December, over changes to its terms of service, Reuters reported late Wednesday.

In a filing with the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, Instagram said that the woman who brought the suit against them, Lucy Funes, did not have the right to sue, as she had ample time to delete her Instagram account before the company changed its terms of service on January 19. Instagram also said that Funes still had an active account past that date.

Instagram also said that Funes' claims that the new terms required her to transfer rights in her photos to the company were not true.

Both the old and new service terms "emphasize that she owns the content she posts through Instagram's service," it said in the filing.

The lawsuit was filed on December 21 by Funes, four days after Instagram announced the proposed changes on December 17. 

In the original suit, Funes alleged breach of contract and of violating the property rights of its users.

"The New Terms transfer valuable property rights to Instagram while simultaneously relieving Instagram from any liability for commercially exploiting customers' photographs and artistic content, while shielding Instagram from legal liability," the suit said.

The suit also addressed the possibility of Funes deleting her account, saying, "If customers do not agree with Defendant's scheme, they can cancel their profile with Instagram. However, upon canceling, customers forfeit all right to retrieve the Property that was previously entrusted to Instagram, which retains rights thereto in perpetuity."

All of this stems from proposed policy changes Instagram announced in December, which said that the service would be sharing user data with Facebook, meaning that pictures uploaded to Instagram could be used in advertisement on the service without user permission.

The backlash was fierce and, I must say, quite sudden. It was so bad, in fact, that Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom actually wrote a blogpost later the same week, apologizing to fans, and saying that the company would be reverting back to its original terms of service from October 2010.

“Earlier this week, we introduced a set of updates to our privacy policy and terms of service to help our users better understand our service. In the days since, it became clear that we failed to fulfill what I consider one of our most important responsibilities – to communicate our intentions clearly. I am sorry for that, and I am focused on making it right,” Systrom wrote.

Instagram was purchased by Facebook for $1 billion in April 2012. The deal closed for $715 million in September due to Facebook's stock price drop.

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment.

Instagram could not be reached for comment.

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