Instagram Wins Terms-Of-Service Battle

A lawsuit against Instagram stemming from a highly publicized revision to the company's terms of service has hit a dead end.

The case, brought by Instagram user Lucy Rodriguez, was dismissed last week by a California state court judge. The move appears to put an end to the fallout from Instagram's December 2012 decision to change its terms.

Back in late 2012, the Facebook-owned Instagram sparked a user revolt when it issued new terms of service that appeared to give the company the right to sell users' photos. The app quickly retreated from its clumsy move, but then issued a second rewrite of its terms of service. Among other changes, the revised terms required users to agree to refrain from bringing class-action complaints in the future. The new terms also claimed a right to sublicense users' content -- though the company said at the time users own their photos, and that it had no plans to sell them.



Those changes, though minor, were enough to prompt Rodriguez to sue the company. She challenged the new terms on several fronts, including that they apply to photos that were uploaded when the old terms were still in effect.

Last year, a federal judge dismissed Rodriguez's lawsuit. But that dismissal was without prejudice to her right to bring the case in state court.

She did so, but to no avail. Last week, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow dismissed Rodriguez's case on the ground that she consented to the changes by continuing to use Instagram after the new terms took effect.

“Instagram did not unilaterally grant itself sublicensing power; rather, it required Plaintiff to consent to sub-licensing power, a liability waiver, and other terms, under a new agreement, if she wished to continue using Instagram' s service,” Karnow wrote. “She did not have to agree to these terms, but the complaint makes it clear that she did.”

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