Instagram changed its terms of use to instantly grant itself the rights to the photos its users upload to the site.

Instagram, the popular service for sharing and filtering photos shot on phones, has now released changes to its Terms of Use, which will go into effect on Jan. 16, 2013 for all users. “Our community has grown a lot since we wrote our original terms of service. To get things up to date for the millions of people now using Instagram, we’re bringing you new versions of our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service,” Instagram wrote on its blog.

“Instagram does not claim ownership of any Content that you post on or through the Service,” it said. “Instead, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service, except that you can control who can view certain of your Content and activities on the Service as described in the Service’s Privacy Policy, available here: http://instagram.com/legal/privacy/.”

The legalese goes on. “Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.” (You can read the full Terms of Service here.)

If you read that carefully you’ll understand that Instagram doesn’t “own” your content, but it can license your photos to other companies. If it wanted, it says in effect, it could sell your photos to advertisers or other firms.

How nice. And that’s not the end of it, as Instagram now says that its users agree “that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.”

So, basically, Instagram can decide to make a profit while it ruins your life, if you happen to have uploaded anything questionable to the site. And what partying person under a certain age who has always lived with a phone capable of taking and uploading photos at any time hasn’t done that?