Kim Kardashian, Instagram's most popular celebrity user, threatened to take her business from the popular photo-sharing service unless the company's "new policies are drastically revised," TMZ reported last week.
Well, Instagram soon discarded some of its new policies, just as Kim wanted. But the Instagram brouhaha has now developed into a federal lawsuit, according to Reuters.
The Instagram lawsuit is a civil suit that looks like it's seeking class certification (i.e. it's headed the class action route). It was brought in the wake of changes to Instagram's terms of service that users have to agree to.
Instagram's updated terms of service initially allowed Instagram to sell users' photographs without their permission. But those terms have been rescinded, Reuters reports.
Still, other parts of Instagram's new terms are set to take effect Jan. 16 and form the basis of the Instagram lawsuit. For example, the suit seeks to void specific parts of the new terms, including a clause that forces users to enter into arbitration if they have a grievance with Instagram, with limited exceptions, PCWorld reports.
The lawsuit also challenges an alleged Instagram policy that forces users who cancel their profiles to also give up their rights to photos already shared on Instagram. "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 lawsuit states, according to PCWorld.
While the Instagram lawsuit is based on contractual terms of service, it touches on some issues of a tort nature -- namely, the notion of invasion of privacy and the use of one's name or likeness without permission.
It's generally considered grounds for a lawsuit when one's image or "likeness" is used without permission for commercial use. And while Instagram maintains that a user's private photos will remain private and won't be used in ads, many users like Kim Kardashian aren't convinced.
If users like Kardashian (and her 5.7 million Instagram followers) leave the company for a competitor, Instagram would stand to lose, even if the lawsuit is meritless. The suit was filed in federal court in San Francisco.
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