I Am Baker

The Ugly Truth About Instagram

UPDATE: Why Not to Freak Out About the New Instagram Policy Dec. 18th, 2012

Let me start by saying I am not a lawyer and I wouldn’t know how to think like one even if I tried.

What I am is an honest blogger who is feeling duped.

When I started my Instagram account I was instantly smitten.  Everything about it was wonderful… the ease of uploading and processing my pictures, the convenience of posting my pictures to other forms of social media.

I even wrote posts about it and made a cake in honor of it!

Most of all, I loved looking at other peoples streams.  The talent and content was mind blowing… what people can do with a camera phone is truly awesome!


But there is a dark side.

People take images off the internet and repost them on their Instagram accounts.  With no attribution.  Essentially, they are creating their own ‘Pinterest like’ boards through Instagram.

This is a violation of the terms of use by Instagram, as they clearly state here:

You represent and warrant that: (i) you own the Content posted by you on or through the Instagram Services or otherwise have the right to grant the license set forth in this section, (ii) the posting and use of your Content on or through the Instagram Services does not violate the privacy rights, publicity rights, copyrights, contract rights, intellectual property rights or any other rights of any person, and (iii) the posting of your Content on the Site does not result in a breach of contract between you and a third party. You agree to pay for all royalties, fees, and any other monies owing any person by reason of Content you post on or through the Instagram Services.

So when I saw my Surprise Inside Heart Cake posted on an account with over 174,000 followers, I was upset.  I left a comment on the picture saying, “This is my picture.  I did not give you permission to post it.  Please remove it from your feed.”

I was ignored.

I reported the picture to Instagram.  See, I read this post and thought they had my back.

I was ignored.

As it stands there are over 24,000 “hearts” on that picture.

There are comments like, “Cool!  How did you do that?” and “Recipe please?”  “How did you get the surprise inside that cake?”

The people who posted my picture (proprietors) also submitted my picture to various contests and photo galleries.  Never once, anywhere, did they ever credit me or even imply the picture was not theirs.

To this day, the picture is still there and I have never heard one single word from Instagram.

There is another account (around 60k followers) that posted my rainbow pancakes.

I asked the proprietor to remove the image from her feed and she all but laughed in my face.  Some of the comments I got when I asked her to remove the picture:

(from the proprietor herself)

“I got the images from weheartit.com a picture sharing website.  I feel no shame for taking a picture off a website and reposting it, like hundreds of millions of people do.  And that picture is not your picture, unless you uploaded it to weheartit.com yourself, which was your fault because it’s a photo sharing site.  Once you upload it there, you cant get upset when someone else reposts it because that’s the whole idea of the website.”

For the record, I have never uploaded a picture to weheartit.com

“If she (the proprietor)  gets them off google anybody can take them and if she takes it from u it just means u had a good pic…”

“She (the proprietor) doesn’t have to do anything!  She doesn’t know you! What is your problem?  Its not like anyone would just take your pics.  GET A LIFE!  Don’t you have better things to do?  Oh wait, I guess not!”

“Once you put ANY type of media out on the Inernet, it is no longer yours.  Its anyones to use, repost, or “steal”.  And none of those things are any type of actions that are illegal.”

“Dont flip out *** dang!  Those pictures are all over instagram and pinterest.  Stop being a baby.”

“You do know its not copyrighting unless she sells it or takes credit for it, right?  Oh wait, you don’t know.  Its basically like printing off a picture from the internet for a school report.  All your classmates see it, and its not copyrighting.  Thats just the same as Instagram.  Read (the proprietors) bio.  She didn’t claim credit for them.  Get your facts straight.”

Clearly people were not happy I asked for my images to be removed.  I am continually getting harassing comments and being insulted.

(These are just two examples, there are many more ofenders)

So why do I bother?

I work hard on taking pictures and publishing things on my blog.  Taking pictures does not come easy to me and its often a labor of love.  I have invested time and money into every post published.

When I published that picture on my blog, per my disclaimer, I immediately had copyright.  I own my pictures.  I have the right to say if someone can post it or not.  Furthermore, I have legal recourse if someone posts it without my permission.

Except with Instagram.

Because even though their terms of service indicate that you need to own a picture before posting it, there are thousands of accounts that do not follow those terms.  These accounts have huge followings, and are full of images that the proprietor does not own. (see below)

And, in my personal experience, Instagram has not done anything about it.

Under the Proprietary Rights in Content on Instagram section on their legal terms page it states:

Instagram does NOT claim ANY ownership rights in the text, files, images, photos, video, sounds, musical works, works of authorship, applications, or any other materials (collectively, “Content”) that you post on or through the Instagram Services. By displaying or publishing (“posting”) any Content on or through the Instagram Services, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, worldwide, limited license to use, modify, delete from, add to, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce and translate such Content, including without limitation distributing part or all of the Site in any media formats through any media channels, except Content not shared publicly (“private”) will not be distributed outside the Instagram Services.

So even if someone takes my pictures and distributes them, Instagram is not responsible.

If  you read on further, Instagram also claims your picture as theirs.  They can use your image(s) around the world and owe you nothing.*

They, and all of their users, can use your pictures for whatever they want whenever they want.

And there are no consequences.

*I am not saying I wouldnt be honored to have my pictures deemed worthy enough to distribute.

I could contact an attorney and pursue legal action, but right now that would be out of anger and hurt feelings.  I want to make sure if I pursue this its for the right reasons and would help the greater good.

I also want people to understand that just because they found a picture on google doesn’t make it their property.

I hope that when people post on Instagram that they have either taken the picture themselves or are willing to pay royalties/give credit to the appropriate source.

That they would post with integrity.

Am I asking too much?

*If you are a blogger or have a website, I encourage you to try searching for one of your more popular images on Instagram.


I just received this from Instagram:

Thank you for your email. Stealing photos is against our Community Guidelines (bit.ly/igcg) and we take it seriously. We want photographers to feel confident and safe sharing their work on Instagram.With regards to your case, we saw flags submitted for these images but we could not confirm the original source of the photos. By the time it was flagged, the image seemed to have reached “internet meme” status and had spread to many different accounts and webpages. This is a testament to how much people enjoy your photo, but, unfortunately, it makes reviewing the image for original ownership much more difficult. In the future, we suggest that when you flag an image you 1. include links to the original source of the file in your flag reporting and 2. email us if the image(s) are not removed within 24 hours with links to your original file and links to all of the images on Instagram where you have seen the photo replicated. To locate links to stolen images, we suggest using a web browser version of our site (http://web.stagram.com/n/USERNAME). You can click the “O” in the top right corner of each image which will take you to an Instagram web page for that photo. Then, you can send us the URLs to the Instagram web pages.Finally, we have reviewed the accounts you mention above and taken appropriate action. Please let us know if there is anything else we can do. 
The Instagram Team
Every single account I mentioned was closed.  Now those individuals know that they were doing something wrong and that there ARE consequences for their actions.  We obviously have a long way to go, but I cannot even tell you how much of my faith was restored in the Instagram community!
 Thank you, Instagram, for handling this issue and upholding your terms of use.  And  thank you for providing further information on how to better safeguard ourselves.
And thank YOU for sharing this issue and providing helpful, informative, and sound advise in how we can all better our online communities!
I have since had other pictures posted on peoples accounts without permission.  I followed Instagrams directions and flagged the images with the details they require.  Again, no action was taken.  I then emailed again and requested some advice in how to handle this.  They removed my image from an offending account, (thank you) but left the account open even though every other image was also stolen.
So, as it stands, I believe Instagram has good intentions, but not good execution.  I feel there is much work that needs to be done.




  1. Robin says

    I can tell by the outpouring of sympathy on this site that your fans (including me), care very much about this issue. I believe it is possible that I may be repeating information that you have already received. But just in case, here are two links and a possible resource that you may find of use:


    Resource: Legal Shield. Look them up on line. They can’t help you “sue” (well, at least not as you start a relationship with them), but they can write “cease and desist” letters on your behalf sighting copy right law and the penalties for such violations. Legal Shield can also help review contracts of all kinds, answer any legal question, and some other services for a small monthly fee. I found them useful for situations that have come up in my personal and professional life.

    After reading your plight, I must out myself as someone who has re-posted information without seeking permission first, however, I have always given credit about the author / artist and assigned links taking anyone interested back to their site. It’s the right thing to do, and it blows my mind that there are so many who don’t do that, or have the audacity to defend their illegal actions.

    I know when I finish making some birthday cakes this month I’m going to get compliments. And even though I won’t be re-posting your tips and techniques, I’m still going to rave about your sight. Again, it’s the right thing to do.

    Thank you for sharing all of your wonderful ideas. Keep on baking, and don’t let those that abuse your property get you down.

  2. says

    I’m so sorry for your frustration! This was my hesitation at first-not that my ideas are so original but I get so overwhelmed with my ideas that I feel that If i should post quickly. Before someone makes someone similar and I’d have that “hey i should have done that when I thought of it! Take that and run with it before I do. But posting it made it seem like “here it is I just made this!”

  3. niki says

    well I understand your frustration. however, I do believe that humans are going to do what humans have always done, take other’s ideas and use them as their own. I’m not saying YOU did this. what I am saying is that a lot of times you see an idea, a cake, a quilt, a crocheted item, and the person says it’s ‘theirs’. in all actuality, it’s not. sometimes these patterns and such have been around for years on end. maybe one gets an idea and makes it themselves. maybe they are inspired by other’s work. whatever the case. what I guess my point here is that as long as you put yourself out there on the internet, having a blog, instagram, facebook, anything that the public (people you do not know) can see, you are going to get this kind of behavior. happens all the time. I remember back in the day when the internet started getting popular many had images on their blogs and when you’d right click it was not clickable, and actually told you to not take their picture.s ok fine. well now what? they have it where you just snag the pic by downloading free software onto your own computer. locally, how would anyone know you stole it? it’s not right, but it happens. all the time. I see it everywhere. then people thought, Ok, i’ll put a watermark. well with today’s technology that’s also easy to remove and make one’s own. I guess I could write a book on this but you kind of get the idea. are any thoughts/images/patterns really true ‘originals’?

    • says

      Can people really remove a watermark??! That’s how I’ve been doing all of my pictures on my food blog. Actually, rather than a watermark I’ve been adding text manually. The good thing about my fashion blog is that no one can really steal anything…because they’re all pictures of ME.

      • Karen says

        @ Gina…people can absolutely remove a watermark from your photos. They can get your picture even if you don’t make it available to copy or download from your site. It’s truly not difficult to do

  4. says

    It’s really sad how people can be so mean on the internet. I have loved your blog for YEARS now, your photography is AMAZING. No wonder people out there (who aren’t as talented as you) steal it for glory.
    I was so happy to read at the end that Instagram shut those accounts down. HA-HA.
    Justice ;)

  5. Net says

    It bothers me that people think it is okay to take other peoples ideas and not give credit where it is due. I am in a Core Knowledge training trainers class and we had a long conversation about this. Basically this class gets people ready to create and impliment classes. Anyway, I was surprised at the amount of people who thought it was okay to take things from the internet without giving the credit to the website and creater.
    Also people need to step back and think before they type. They need to put on the message receivers shoes and think of why they are upset before they get so rude and hit send. The reply sent to you was very much uncalled for if they would have poured all their love and passion into something and they found someone else taking credit for their ideas online they also would have been upset. I like the phrase….Write it reget it, say it forget it. Hopefully they feel bad because their mean comment is out their for everyone to see and they also see how rude their response was.

  6. Nira says

    Love your work and photos. An easy fix would be to add a watermark to your photos – as many popular bloggers do to protect them.


  7. says

    I’m a cake decorator and before I even post my pictures online I always put my mark on the photo. This would be my logo, the year it was taken (mostly for own personal tracking), as well as my website, so that people who would steal the photo would post it and also show the original website where they got the photo from. That way, it could be a bit of a free advertising ;) I’m in the middle of redoing my photos with a better logo that is informative, small, yet visible that I will smack on the middle of the cake so that you can’t edit it out.

  8. says

    PS Although I imagine it’s insanely frustrating, just remember that those people will never feel good about themselves, having never done anything for themselves and living a fake online life. It’s sad when you think about it.
    And your work is beautiful~

  9. Christine says

    Maybe this has been mentioned, but can you watermark your images? Then it will always have your “signature.”

  10. Genesis says


    I can fully understand your frustation. One works so hard on something to then not be given any credit for it. My suggestion, I’m sure many people may have already suggested it, is to “watermark” or “Tag” your pictures INSIDE the picture.

    You post your picture and somewhere in the picture you add your name and/or signature so that you DO receive the credit that you deserve.

    =] Love your blog!!

  11. Masar says

    I understand ur frustration but I repost things too from google! If ur pic goes on google a lot of people have liked it therefore many people will try to post it on somewhere because they’re inspired by it! Yep they might not mention the creator or who owns the pic because they don’t know who it is for! It gets passed around which means a lot of people are liking it!

    • Tiana says

      Well, first of all, I understand your frustration and let me just say you’re an AMAZING baker. But on the other hand…
      I am a teenager. I’m not sure if I’m right, so correct me if I’m wrong but it’s kinda harsh to say that every account you mentioned was closed. I mean, 60K followers is a big deal. Francesca Capaldi only has 50K! They must’ve worked hard before to get 60K followers! I understand that you should’ve reported them or something, but having instagram close their accounts and be satisfied? That’s kinda harsh, no? I mean, these people love your images and they want to repost them. I want to hear more on your side of the story. What was their caption? They didn’t claim credit for it. They just simply reposted it. Lot’s of people do and it’s part of society. You can’t just change society overnight. I think that you should just let it be and go with the flow.

      • says

        Tiana, what you seem to be losing sight of is that fact that reposting images without permission is a violation of copyright. Against the law! Just because lots of people do it does NOT make it right nor ok nor something I should be encouraged to overlook. They are not sharing my image because they love my work, they are trying to grow their followings. The motivation is completely selfish and wrong. Their caption has nothing to do with the owner of the image, it is “FOLLOW xxxxxx!” I think that you should get more informed on the topics of morals and ethics and maybe not tell people who know more than you how to behave.

  12. Shantan Banerjee says

    Hello. I just realised that someone has been stealing my pics and posting them as their own! I reported the profile and asked others to do so as well, however no action has been taken. In your article, you mention that you emailed instagram. I have been looking for an address to which i can send my grievances, but have found none online. Can you please let me know which email id to send a mail to? Also, have you thought about submitting a copyright infringement form? If you have used it, would you advise me to do so?

  13. says

    I found your post during a search because my daughter just opened an instagram account and had a little collage that she made stolen and reposted. I didn’t know exactly what to tell her because I don’t use Instagram a whole lot and frankly wasn’t all that sure about the whole “passing on” of media. I thought maybe it was possible that you could share things the way you do on FB (with attribution) and that I was just and idiot and missing it somehow. But no. She’d just been swiped. First lesson of the the internet, kiddo — it sucks out here…

  14. Perriann says

    There are a ton of re-post apps out there. How do you feel about the re-post applications? The ones that give the original creator credit, and put the gray bar at the bottom… with the original “@ownerofimage”??

    Do you feel this violates your pictures? Or do you think that if they just give credit, its okay?

  15. says

    Hi! Sorry to read this, but everything you said is sadly true.

    It is neither the nicest nor the most effective method to protect image contents (at least this persuades some data thieves), but please take this in account: Watermarks! I understand Instagram does not allow to edit pictures as a photoshop, gimp or even a MS Paint would, but maybe a simple printed version of your logo or name placed next to your products at the time you take the picture would work to promote your brand and get attention for free. Nice cakes btw, next time I find a photo of some yummy cake in instagram I will come back and check.

  16. zegond says

    You have to face the fact that sharing things on internet might lead to people using it for their own. Its a sad truth and when u tell people who stole your data, you’ll face insults and disrespects from the reposters, followers and people-alike. The best way is to use a watermark. Your images might sound a *bit* uncool that way. But u can makee sure people who steal your images cant get rid of your watermark and channel name on it. This way, even if people repost your images, not only the original source is clear, but also, theyre unwillingly advertise your profile page, leading people to your account.
    Right now most of the popular artists, fun pages and such, use watermark and mention their channel name on the pic to claim their ownership even if its reposted. I highly recommend you to do so.

  17. Tatiyana says

    I haven’t read the other comments so I don’t know if someone suggested it already, but a good way to make sure your pics remain yours is to put your tag on the picture. There are a lot of people who make edits for bands and celebrities, and they put there tag somewhere where people can’t remove it (like in the middle of the cake or something). I hope you get your pictures back to being owned only by you! :)

  18. says

    Hello. I just read you post about stealing on Instagram as I noticed one of my images I told was stolen by another users who posted on his account. He was lamed to think I wouldn’t see it as I am following him. He gave no credit to me whatsoever. I left a indirect comment stating I have one just like it on my feed. I am wondering if I should take further action and report him to Instagram. He has a handful of followers and clearly lost me, but I have taken a screenshot and his account name for reference.

  19. Naomi says

    This is so infuriating! Maybe you should put watermarks on all your photos in areas they cant be removed from!

  20. Countrybakes says

    I completely understand what you are going through I have seen a few facebook pages and one in particular where the person claims to have “just made this birthday for a customer”, or “my first attempt at….” Perhaps a figure made out of icing or “this just away, happy birthday……” And placed photos of cakes etc on their business page on facebook and low and behold their are complete liars! The pictures are taken from other bakers websites or google images! It amazes me at the Gaul of individuals who do this!! Why would you claim to make something you didn’t?? It is all obviously about the ego and the amount of likes they get! It’s not about pride in what they can personally achieve themselves! To me it is more satisfying in what I can personally accomplish whilst acknowledging that I’m not as good as someone else but someone I might learn to be!! Not about pretending to have skills and talent that are just stolen from someone else who has already travelled the long and tireless road of practicing time and time again to earn perfection or something close to it! You find that those who do are doing it, are repeating similar mistakes in all areas of their life not just on social media! Pretending to be something they are not as they are clearly very unsatisfied and unhappy. Amanda keep up the great work, I have only recently discovered your blog and Instagram page and I’m enjoying admiring you fantastic skill, imagination and hard work! I’m only at the start of my career and as a mum of 3 my kids take over most of my time, but my little baking business keeps me sane! Perhaps someday, like you I will be able to share a talent with the world. Keep up the good work, keep blogging, and keep praising our Lord and saviour x

  21. says

    Hi that is just appalling but some result at least – the same happens with recipes frequently – I have had my recipes used by others in so called cookery classes without any credit to me, honestly people have no morals, its heartbreaking esp for people like u with such talent. Fact is the one saving grace is, people with talent keep creating, its best to let it go to karma and get moving onwards and upwards! Best of luck, love your recipes and designs! x

  22. says

    Wow, what a terrible experience, I can’t believe you were attacked like that for standing up for yourself, neither can I believe that Instagram has not responded to your situation, what a complete load of BS. Totally empathise, if that happened with my Insta account I’d be furious.

  23. says

    You make such gorgeous things and take such beautiful photos of them; it is also apparent that you invest money not only in the ingredients but also on the props, photography equipment and then there is also the issue of your time, which must be considerable, too. I find it horrifying that there are so many ignorant and rude people out there who think that it is ok to steal your or anyone else’s photos. With instagram, I tend to usually post food in the middle of preparation – nothing worth stealing but enough to whet the curiosity and tastebuds of my followers with a comment that the recipe will be up soon or is up on the blog…I also use IG to post photos of places I have been to or things I have seen and liked as a means to engage with my followers in a more personal way – so that it is not all about food. I know that I get photo fatigue having seen the same photo on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, the WordPress feed and the blog as well as IG so it’s nice to mix it up a bit! Thanks for the info on how to flag up stolen photos to IG – I will certainly be on the lookout now!


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