Instagram changes and piracy: Not the same thing

instagram

“File-sharing: You don’t mind it when it’s some musician’s song or a designer’s game. When it’s your shitty instagram photos it all changes, eh?”

“Mad about instagram? Imagine you’d spent 100s of hours & 1000s of dollars on your cat photos… you now know what it’s like to be a musician”

There’ve been some tweets floating around comparing the Instagram TOS kerfuffle with file-sharing. Now, I’m not saying people who’ve had their materials pirated aren’t allowed to be upset. I just think it’s a really terrible comparison, and it’ll be kind of frustrating if it gains traction.

Let’s ignore the implication that everything on Instagram is worthless, required no effort, and barely qualifies as creative expression (partly because I’ve posted on something similar before and partly because ugh) and focus on the actual issue. The concern that Instagram users have, overblown as it may be, is that images that they uploaded for the purpose of sharing can now be used for commercial purposes, without their permission. They wanted their shitty cat photos to be shared with as many people as possible–file sharing is literally the purpose of a site like Instagram. So saying to Instagram users “how do you like file-sharing now” is a little weird. They like it. It’s what they want to do.

What they don’t want is someone else making money off of their work without their permission.

What these musicians are presumably more concerned about is piracy–people downloading songs that are made for commercial purposes without paying for them. But this is more like if Bandcamp started saying, hey, if your songs are available for free on our site, we’re going to start licensing them to movies and commercials without telling you. Again, that’s not the same as some dude downloading your song for his personal use without paying anything. In this case, you’ve already said it’s OK for that dude to download it without paying. You just don’t want Bandcamp making money off a song that wasn’t supposed to be sold in the first place.

And I do think that distinction matters, especially when you’re putting it in terms of file sharing. Because there are huge amounts of culture being created and distributed explicitly because people want them shared, completely separately from any economic motivations, and I think it’s kind of neat that people want to keep that from becoming commercialized (even if that’s a super naive way of looking at social media). If you’re trying to sell music and it’s getting pirated, that sucks. But it’s not the same thing as what’s happening here.

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  1. [...] ist, nach dem Tweet zu suchen. Denn der darin gezogene Vergleich war ja sowieso, wie in vielen Blogs analysiert wird, falsch: Die Nutzer von Instagram wollten doch ganz bewusst, dass ihre Fotos von [...]



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