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Instagram Updates/Clarifies Guidelines On Nudity & Copyright

By Kishore Sawh on April 17th 2015


As I’ve mentioned before, Instagram, whether you like it or not, is a tremendous part of the photography world now, in almost every sense of the word. And it’s still growing, and evolving. To many’s surprise, and perhaps many more’s chagrin, Instagram has held some rather curious behaviors and regulations since inception, namely their ban on nudity, and their seemingly cavalier attitude to enforcing copyright law. Neither of these have seemed to affect Instagram in a negative manner, as the behemoth keeps growing.

However, as they grow, as is the case with any entity and especially one that grew at this rate and size, original guidelines get pushed for more specificity. With an update to their Community Guidelines, that’s precisely what Instagram, much like its parent company Facebook did recently, has just tried to do.

Their Director Of Public Policy has stated, “The policies are exactly the same as they were, but we’re trying to give people a more transparent document.” Transparency is one thing, but clarity and specificity are also clearly aims of the update. This is a daunting task for a company with over 300 million active users, so the policies have been somewhat generalized.


Now they’ve had to give even a few examples such as mentioning that breastfeeding and post-mastectomy scarring photos are allowed. This is in no doubt a response to the massive critical outcry from people around the world when Instagram deleted images that were self-portraits of a clothed woman on her period, with clearly visible blood on her pants.

What seems clear now though, is that there will likely be no budging for the time being on the nudity clause, and that includes artful nudes along with “sexual intercourse, genitals, and close-ups of fully nude buttocks.” Ironically, according to TechCrunch images of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana are totally free for posting. (Oh Instagram, when will you grow up?)

There does, however, seem to be a larger push and focus on only posting works you have the right to post. Copyright even has its own dedicated page on Instagram now, just to inform and clarify, and one assumes to leverage liability and encourage self-moderation. The big question now is, how enforceable are the Instagram rules? Well, it depends largely on the users.


For example, with tens of millions of images shared a day, it’s almost inconceivable that monitoring all those images for any infringement is even a remote possibility, and Instagram clearly knows this. So it seems it uses its massive audience and leverages all those eyes by deputizing them to report images shared that go against the rules.

It’s extremely easy to do so, as with a click of the ‘Report’ button, you’re almost done reporting. Now that’s a massive help to the moderators, and they do seem to get around to most. What’s more interesting than that, however, is that reporting copyright infringement is the polar opposite in terms of difficulty. It’s not a matter of clicks, but rather a click to take you to a page where you have to fill out a separate form. So it’s clear which one Instagram cares about more, and clearly they know much of the material on their servers is shared improperly so I guess it’s not a surprise they would arrange it this way.


The problems facing Instagram are not meager, but I think their efforts to find good balance has been a bit. I also find Instagram takes a very American stance on nudity, which frankly, I would like to see lifted. We’re in an age now where we should realize that when something is barred and forbidden is when it typically becomes a perversion, and nudes in the right way don’t need to be perverse. I mean is anyone really that wound up anymore over breasts or buttocks? But the problem is understandable because it’s nigh infeasible to use a judgement call on each image in question, so the blanket rules for now will likely not go away, and there will be that gap between policy and enforcement.

[REWIND: Instagram and The Future of Editorials ]

You can find the full list of Community Guidelines here, the form for reporting copyright issues here, and the page dedicated to copyright use here. Below are the primary guidelines and amendments.

Source(s): Instagram,  TechChrunch

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Jason Boa

    I thought photography was a medium for expression – censorship sucks

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    • Dustin Baugh

      But it’s up to the owner of a site to choose what they display, just like you can’t force and art gallery to display something they don’t like. Them refusing to display your controversial subject doesn’t infringe your expression. You just have to dfind a place to expressi it or do it on your own.

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  2. Frovenses Frovenses

    uptil I looked at the draft 4 $9116 , I didnt believe …that…my sister had been truly bringing in money in there spare time on their laptop. . there dads buddy has been doing this 4 less than 16 months and just repaid the morgage on there condo and purchased a great Mazda . navigate to this site……………………….WWW.JOBSYELP.COM

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  3. David Blanchard

    Sounds like some of you should start your own website. Show pics of anything you want. Nothing to prohibit you and you can make some people happy. Just think, no rules, no problems. You’ll be rich by Tuesday.

    Look, this is Instagram’s business. Don’t like it? Be brave and click elsewhere.

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  4. Eric Mazzone

    The simple reason for the ‘difficulty’ in reporting copyright infringement is because of the DMCA itself. They’re required to get certain legal information about the infringement, and it must be filled out by the copyright owner or their legal representative. People can’t just white knight for people and report when you see it, you have to own the image in question and fill out the form that acts as a legal document.

    This is not a conspiracy, it’s them covering their fourth point of contact from some dill wad making a copyright claim on stuff they just don’t like.

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  5. Graham Curran

    Some fully clothed shots can be more erotic or sexual than nudity. Personally I am more offended by many images of violence rather than seeing a nipple.

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    • Drew Valadez

      Nipples can be some intense things though…

      But i seriously agree with you on this one but your comment goes to show that personal opinion to what offends whom is purely subjective and while IG may not want nipples, it is their platform to make that decision probably because it offends high enough in the IG rule making team.

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  6. Ed Rhodes

    thanks for the update

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  7. Havernamed Havernamed

    upto I looked at the receipt which said $4708 , I did not believe that my brother was like they say really taking home money part-time on there computar. . there sisters neighbour haz done this 4 only sixteen months and by now took care of the morgage on there condo and bourt a great new Lotus Elise .
    website link………….w­­w­­w.J­­o­­bsy­­e­­l­­p.c­­o­­m

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  8. Drew Valadez

    I’m confused about “Ironically, according to TechCrunch images of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana are totally free for posting.” I don’t see how this relates to the topic at hand. If personal decision says that those legal substances are not in someone’s interest then that is their personal choice.

    I can understand why Instagram would want to keep even artful nudes out of it because someone could show something highly pornographic and then claim it as “art”. I am sure they are doing this to keep the younger crowd on board still and can imagine some parents banning the app use if they allowed pornographic images to creep into a teens instagram stream.

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