This article originally appeared on 60 Second Social.
A new website called ‘Sellfie’ has launched which is selling Instagram selfies without the permission of the uploader. The website scours Instagram looking for anything which has the hashtag #selfie and then sells the photo as a single-edition, high quality print for $150 – all without uploader permission.
‘But who would pay $150 for my selfie’ I hear you ask. Well believe me, the market for selfies of strangers is definitely there. Earlier in the year, artist Richard Prince sparked controversy when he started selling people’s Instagram photos as fine art fro $100,000 a go.
The website (note there are some random NSFW photos present) simply features a random photo with a link to order the print if you like it. There is a next button which brings up another random Instagram photo for you to look at. There is no attribution alongside the photos, no link or username.
Even more interesting is that once you order a print through the website it won’t appear for anyone else again. Each selfie is unique to one buyer. The website is the creation of Damjan Pita and he admits that their work is walking on a grey area when it comes to copyright. He spoke to the Huffington Post;
“We definitely think we are walking in a grey area. And we think that even the Richard Prince pieces are in a grey area.”
However he also pointed out that by printing the photos they are adding value to the pictures and are transforming them from the digital state to the concrete state. HuffPo also spoke to UPenn law professor Shayam Balganesh who does not believe that the prints from Sellfie are sufficiently transformative to qualify as fair use so the service could have a solid copyright infringement against it.
The problem at the moment for users is that there is no way of searching for your photo on the website to see if it is there, nor is there anyway of tracking what has been sold for copyright infringement. The website is designed that way, so for now it seems as if Sellfie will continue to sell prints without permission of the uploader unless Instagram decides to do something about it.
When Instagram were contacted they refused to address the case specifically but referred to their policies which limits the ways in which developers can use Instagram shots for financial gain. The rep added, “you can draw your own conclusions about whether this violates our policies.”