By Surojit Chatterjee email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Dec 24, 2012 09:08 PM EST
This holiday season is a time Instagram would like to forget...fast. Though the Facebook-owned photo-sharing site/service had recanted on its earlier decision of selling users' photos, royalty-free, to advertisers, a Southern California-based law firm has decided to go ahead and file a class action lawsuit.
San Diego-based Finkelstein and Krinsk wants the federal court to restrain Instagram from changing its rules that would have allowed it to sell the users' photos, royalty-free, to advertisers for better, targeted advertising. The law firm had filed the lawsuit on Friday.
Following intense blacklash from Netizens and a threat by its most-followed user Kim Kardashian of closing her account, Instagram's founder Kevin Systrom had said in a blog post, "I want to be really clear: Instagram has no intention of selling your photos, and we never did. We don't own your photos, you do."
However, that assurance wasn't apparently enough to prevent Finkelstein and Krinsk from going ahead and filing the lawsuit. The law firm, which specializes in class action lawsuits, claims Instagram still isn't playing fair as customers who Instagram forfeit their rights over the photos they had shared on the service. And, the company still retains a non-exclusive license to use user photos.
"Instagram is taking its customers property rights while insulating itself from all liability," the filing said. "In short, Instagram declares that 'possession is nine tenths of the law and if you don't like it, you can't stop us.'"
The law firm, which wants Instagram to pay its legal fees, is confident that tens of thousands of users in California will join the class action lawsuit. Incidentally, the new terms of service, which Instagram plans to implement from mid-January, also includes a new mandatory arbitration clause that prevents Instagram users from bringing class action lawsuit against the company, except under very limited circumstances. Guess, Instagram won't be getting any gift from Santa this year.
Facebook, which bought Instagram in April for around $1 billion, claims the lawsuit is without any merit and vows to "fight it vigorously."
Instagram's new terms of service can be found here.