Is the Big Business Theft of Our Intellectual Property Rights Next?


The world is up in arms, dealing with Tuesday’s announcement that Instagram is basically going to attempt one of the greatest thefts of intellectual property rights in years. Instagram has backed downa little, but The Pink Flamingo would not trust them.

There is a fix around this.  Download an app that will allow you to put a watermark onto your photography.  Simply state that Copyright (year) by (your name) all rights reserved.  You can also add, Photo may not be reproduced without written permission of (your name).

Once upon a time, during the days before international copyright agreements, newspapers all over this country would serialize a writer’s book.  The author would get zilch.

Then came the world of the copyright.

Today, we still have problems with intellectual property rights in places like China.  We’re not to have problems with things like photos posted on social media.  The idea that Instagram is going to be stepping over a person’s ability to copyright an image, and sell it as their own is basically illegal.  It is also quite chilling.   When one connects this to Apple’s attempt to basically steal books from writers, via their EULA for iBooks and then starts connecting the dots, it is not a good thing.


The Instagram plan, may be illegal.  When a photographer takes a photo, professionally, there must be a signed release to sell and publish.  The Pink Flamingo thinks that Instagram may be getting in some very serious legal do-do here.

“…2. You could star in an advertisement — without your knowledge.
A section of the new terms of service, titled “Rights,” notes that Instagram will also be able to use your photographs and identity in advertisements. “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,” the new terms say. This means that photographs uploaded to Instagram could end up in an advertisement on the service or on Facebook. In addition, someone who doesn’t use Instagram could end up in an advertisement if they have their photograph snapped and shared on the service by a friend. Facebook already runs ads that make use of people’s activity on its site.

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, an advocacy group in Washington, said that the use of a person’s likeness in ads could run into some state laws protecting people’s privacy.

“Most states have laws that limit the use of a person’s ‘name or likeness’ for commercial purposes without consent,” Mr. Rotenberg said. “The legal purpose is to allow people to obtain the commercial value of their images and endorsements, which is a big issue for celebrities and others, but also a reasonable concern for Facebook users whose images are used by Facebook to encourage friends to buy products and services.”

3. Underage users are not exempt.
Athough Instagram says people must be at least 13 years old to sign up for the service, the new terms note that if a teenager signs up, they are agreeing that a parent or guardian is aware that their image, username and photos can also be used in ads.

4. Ads may not be labeled as ads.
In another section of the updated terms, the company says ads will not necessarily be labeled as ads. “You acknowledge that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such,” the company wrote….”

As both a writer and a photographer, I find this disturbing, more than a little annoying, and it reeks of being illegal.  The problem is that Facebook is now so big, it will get away with it, just like Apple changed just a little on the EULA and think they can snooker everyone.

We’re dealing with a group of ultra wealthy companies where the owners, the wealthier they become, have a tendency to wax increasingly libertarian.  In other words, the wealthier and more powerful they become, the more they want to do away with rules and regulations.  They want to gobble up more and more like some sort of nefarious little billionaire PAC MAN.

“...A move to monetize should not be a huge surprise given that Facebook acquired Instagram earlier this year in a deal worth close to $1 billion. It makes sense that the publicly traded company wants to figure out how to justify the purchase to investors. The Atlantic notes that “the only way to get around the privacy problems inherent in advertising-supported social networks is to pay for services that we value.”…”

It is quite terrifying, if you are a writer, photographer, film maker, musician, singer, or creative person.  Will these individuals become so greedy that they will begin to think they can confiscate our legally copyrighted property and claim the proceeds as their own.


The Pink Flamingo is beginning to wonder if I should remove the contents of the blog I’m doing about my father and Alzheimer’s.  Is Google, via Blogger going to step in and say that I cannot turn the contents of The Pink Flamingo’s Father into a book?  (Not that I update the blog like I should).

Does Word Press step in and stay that the contents of this blog belongs to them?  Does Adobe or Microsoft then claim that, because I’ve used their product to compose my book, that they get a piece of the action?

This is about a handful of very greedy billionaires trying to steal what little writers and photographers do make from their work.  I truly expect them to come in and say that, because I used Microsoft Word as the platform to write my murder mystery, that I don’t own the intellectual rights.  I have news for them.  Until the actual legal changes are made to copyright laws, even Instagram can’t steal your copyright material.  They can try, but they will lose this battle – I hope.

Then again, if they buy enough Republicans in the House and Senate, they can do anything they want to We the Little People.

This could get very ugly before it’s all over, and We the Little People lose, once again, due to the greedy prostitutes of the far right.

The Pink Flamingo rarely posts original photos on the blog.  I have about 25 or so that I use on a regular basis.  I don’t use my other photos.


The dirty little secret about using photographs online is that they immediately lose all monetary value, unless you do it within a professional and copyright basis.  It is even worse when you are using old photos.

Once a photograph is published unless it is something like the Billy the Kid tintype, or an occasional photo of Wyatt Earp that surfaces (for example) the moment that photo appears in a book or article, the value, as a collectable, is destroyed.  If you want to sell an old photo to a collector, publishing it is doom!

The Pink Flamingo has spent the past 5 years collecting thousands of old tintypes, cabinet photos, CDVs, and Gelatin Silver dating from about 1850 – 1910 for a book on American fashion.  I’m using 2100 photos – all unpublished – in the book.  Included in it is a previously unpublished Matthew Brady photo of Mary Todd Lincoln.   I have not uploaded any photos online.  I want to control my intellectual property rights on the work that I am doing.  None of the photos are now copyright, but I control the ownership of the photo, except for a couple dozen celeb Newsboy photos.

According to my tech and political sources, don’t even think that Facebook/Instagram is one little bit innocent about the PR disaster they created today.  The Pink Flamingo has been told that we are going to be seeing more of this.  It’s quite simple.  We’re dealing with a group of men (most of them are men) who have become so wealthy that that no longer think the rules of civilization apply to them.

The Pink Flamingo is the world’s greatest advocate for growing, obtaining, generating, acquiring, and maintaining great wealth.  I daily aspire to such wealth.  BUT – there comes a time and a place where absolute wealth, like absolute power, is absolutely corrupting.  We have reached that tipping point.  If the mega wealthy, the likes of which have never existed other than in a handful of autocratic despots who came to bad ends, society is going to take care of the situation.  It will not be pretty.  It will be as wrong and as immoral of the behavior of today’s mega billionaire, but it will happen.

Revolutions, for the most part, occur over gross inequities within a specific society.  The far, libertarian right, which enjoys pontificating about their freedom, the Founders (morphing them into unrecognizable deities in the process) is enabling the process.  If something does not happen to put the tax system to rights, it is not going to be pretty.




2 thoughts on “Is the Big Business Theft of Our Intellectual Property Rights Next?

  1. There is nothing wrong with wanting to accumulate wealth…but there is some ethical demand that while you may accumulate wealth for yourself, you don’t make it impossible for others to do the same and you don’t do it by stealing it or plagiarizing it.

    I think this move crosses the line (and am worried about some of my own photography and art work, that I’d like to grow into a little business venture of my own).

  2. I think they’ve reached the point where there is nothing rational about their behavior. They have become so powerful and so selfish, they no longer exist in the same reality with the rest of the world. There is no other logical explanation that does not involve something truly nefarious.


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