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I’m sure by now you’ve heard about the big stink being raised over Instagram’s new terms & policies set to go into effect on Jan. 16th. If you haven’t, please familiarize yourself. In short, as the policy is currently written, Instagram would have the right to sell any photos you upload to their service without paying you anything or even letting you know that your photo was being sold or used.

When I first heard about this my initial reaction was utter disgust, and indeed I planned on deleting my account if the policies weren’t changed from what was written. But I also felt pretty confident that it must have been simply some overzealous and greedy lawyers and executives from Facebook writing blanket statements into the policies, and that it wouldn’t be long before they responded by changing the proposed policy. Thankfully, Instagram responded to the outcry today in a blog post titled “Thank you, and we’re listening.” It seems that most if not all of the clauses that pissed everyone off will be removed. The most important thing to take from their statement is this:

Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos. Nothing about this has changed. We respect that there are creative artists and hobbyists alike that pour their heart into creating beautiful photos, and we respect that your photos are your photos. Period.

And this:

Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.

As a photographer who makes part of my living from photos and licensing their usage, I am hyper-aware of the copyright issues and legalities involved in photography and of how corporations, media, and other establishments are constantly trying to find ways to avoid paying for usage of creative work. I absolutely would not have continued using Instagram if the original policy change had gone into effect. I also had visions of the crumbling Instagram empire, as the backlash would’ve been pretty widespread, whilst other services such as Twitter and Flickr are launching their own photo-sharing apps/features, complete with Instagram-like filters. Hipsters everywhere would have cried a sea of vintage filtered tears until one of the other services (my guess would’ve been Flickr) took over as the king photo filter/sharing app. It remains to be seen what the new version of the policies & terms of use will look like, but I have a feeling it will keep everyone happy, and not rip off the user base. But Instagram/Facebook, be warned- I’ll be looking at the new policies & terms of use very carefully and if you try to pull anything remotely similar to this, SHAME ON YOU and I will be GONE.

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Everyone is quite familiar with Shepard Fairey’s iconic adaptation of a photograph of Barack Obama. The photograph was taken by well-known photographer Mannie Garcia for the AP. Apparently the AP is claiming a copyright infringement, but technically the image belongs to Garcia because he was not on the AP staff, he was just a hired temporary fill-in when he took the photo. John Harrington has a great interview with Garcia on his blog Photo Business & News Forum, in which you can learn more of the gritty details of this situation. I agree that in fact the issue is not whether it is infringement, it’s whether the term “fair usage” can be applied. I also agree that the copyright owner is entitled to some sort of settlement. Fairey has made A LOT of money off of this image. I find it very honorable that Mr. Garcia is concerned more about recognition than monetary compensation.

Recently I’ve been getting into a new band from New York called The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. I highly encourage fans of The Smiths, Jesus & Mary Chain, or the Raveonettes to check them out. These days it seems like the music world is completely overrun with stupid indie rock bands with beards and animals in their names, who make the same fucking album over and over again. But every now and then a new band will stick out to my ears and I’ll actually latch on and add them to my “bands I officially LIKE” list.

I officially am excited to see Coraline. They Might Be Giants did a song for the movie, which is used in one of the tv trailers, and it was directed by Henry Selick, who also directed Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s also awesome that it was done with REAL stop-motion animation, not CG. Henry Selick+Stop-motion+They Might Be Giants= Awesome. Even cooler is that the filmmakers made 50 customized homemade boxes containing unique items from the movie, and sent them to their favorite bloggers.

Ever see that crappy 90’s scifi movie Anaconda? Ok, maybe not, but it had a big ass snake. Turns out that snakes that big actually did exist a long time ago. They were as long as a school bus, and their body was “so wide that if it were moving down the hall and decided to come into my office to eat me, it would literally have to squeeze through the door.” Whoa.

A company has come up with a way to channel sunlight from a collector on your roof into a light fixture in your house or office using fiber optics. Why didn’t someone think of this a long time ago? Like, when fiber optics were first commercially viable?

And I’ll leave you with the first of three video segments of the Beatles’ last live performance- on the rooftop of the Apple Records building in London on Jan. 30th, 1969. As I said this is segment #1, and here’s segment #2 and segment #3.

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