Instagram Slapped With Lawsuit For Alleged Photo Rights Bait-and-Switch

Lawsuit claims that Instagram's new terms aren't what users originally bargained for

A picture might be worth a thousand words — but in Instagram's case, photos could end up costing them lots of cash.

The photo-sharing platform Instagram has been hit with a class-action lawsuit initiated by a San Diego woman who claims that the new terms instituted by Instagram in January improperly expands the company's rights to users' photos.

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According to the lawsuit, filed by Lucy Rodriguez in San Francisco Superior Court on Tuesday, Instagram's new terms "transfer valuable property rights to Instagram and appropriate the photographs and likeness (the 'Property') of Plaintiff and members of the Class for unauthorized commercial exploitation without compensation."

The suit says that Instagram's original terms stated that "Instagram does NOT claim ANY ownership rights in [content] that you post on or through the Instagram Services," adding that Instagram only has a "limited license" to use the content.

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The new terms, by contrast, claim a "transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license" to the content that amounts to "an unlimited license to commercially exploit the Property," according to the suit.

That's not the deal that Instagram users signed up for prior to January, Rodriguez says, and she's not happy about it. Especially since, the suit claims, that Instagram's new terms allow the platform to commercially exploit and sub-license property, even if the user cancels his or her profile.

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Instagram has not yet responded to TheWrap's request for comment.

Alleging breach of contract and violation of California business and professions code, the suit is asking the court to restrict Instagram to its original terms guiding content rights. Plus attorneys' fees, the costs of the suit, and "other and further relief as this Court may deem just and proper."

For what it's worth, Rodriguez was party to a similar suit against Instagram, which was dismissed by a U.S. district judge last week.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.