Although Instagram may have riled nearly 100% of their users by changing their terms of service late Monday, and claiming the right to use your photos and photos of you in any advertisement they want, new mom/Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer quietly released a new version of her company's Flickr mobile app earlier this month. Flickr's new photo filters drew quick comparisons to Instagram's most talked-about feature, but in the wake of yesterday's immense wave of backlash, Flickr's offering is looking increasingly appealing to users who aren't interested in giving away the rights to their photos.
While we doubt Instagram ever really intended to sell the vast majority of photos they host — most of which are just pictures of feet anyway — the idea that Instagram was entitled to sell users' original works bristled more than a few professional photographers who helped prove the service was useful for more than just documenting latte art. Instagram tried to counter the negative PR, claiming the new terms allow the company to fight spam and build better features for everyone, but that says nothing of the bit where Instagram can use your work — you amazing foot-photographer, you — however they see fit. As photographer Noah Kalina put it, no photographer should ever agree to such a contract:
The Instagram TOS is a contract no professional or non professional should ever sign. Walk away.— Noah Kalina (@noahkalina) December 17, 2012
Meanwhile, Flickr's photo-sharing service has long been a favorite among photographers, although it fell out of favor as mobile photography picked up speed and Facebook became the most popular place to share photos. In the days before the Instagram TOS scandal, tech pundit Anil Dash lamented the shift away from Flickr's openness:
Five years ago, most social photos were uploaded to Flickr, where they could be tagged by humans or even by apps and services, using machine tags. Images were easily discoverable on the public web using simple RSS feeds. And the photos people uploaded could easily be licensed under permissive licenses like those provided by Creative Commons, allowing remixing and reuse in all manner of creative ways by artists, businesses, and individuals.
The new Flickr app provides a range of photo filters (adorably named after exotic animals) and plays nice with Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr — which should be enough to keep the casual photographers interested. Advanced settings give the more discerning iPhoneographers a range of editing options outside of Instagram's square format, the ability to set privacy levels by pre-defined groups, and add tags that won't mess up a pristine caption with a stack of #hashtags. (Hyperallergic has a great run-down of some of Flickr's more technical editing features here.)
Most importantly to the conversation currently at hand though: Marissa Mayer apparently injected some of that "Don't be Evil" philosophy from her former gig when her team breathed new life into Flickr mobile. The Creative Commons license, which allows a users work to be re-purposed as long as original credit is given, comes along with every photo on Flickr and can be tweaked on a per-photo basis. This is crucial in a time when Tweeted photos are increasingly important to breaking news, but Instagram seems more content to keep their photos locked up and impossibly hard to find. Instagram's photos always felt a little fleeting, but that suddenly makes sense if you think about the service as a flipbook of slick magazine ads shot by your friends.
Anyhow, Instagram isn't just sitting on their heels waiting to see who leaves. The company has already hinted at another revision to their terms of service in a tweet this afternoon: