Toronto photographer speaks out after Instagram censors Drake helicopter photo

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WATCH ABOVE: A Toronto-based photographer is raising questions about the removal of months-old photo showing a picture of a helicopter carrying Drake taking off from the city’s downtown. Mark McAllister reports – Dec 9, 2016

A Toronto-based photographer is raising questions about the removal of months-old photo showing a helicopter that had just dropped off Drake taking off from the city’s downtown.

In April, amateur photographer Michael Massie and several others were snapping shots of the Toronto skyline from Polson Pier when a helicopter touched down nearby, which turned out to be carrying Drake.

One of Massie’s fellow photographers, who he hadn’t met before, moved closer to the helicopter to take photos. Massie said that move prompted aggression from Drake and his entourage.

READ MORE: ‘It felt surreal:’ Amateur photographers say Drake confronted them on Toronto pier

Massie posted a photo of the helicopter taking off in front of the Toronto skyline after the encounter. Drake is not visible in the photo.

Massie details what he says happened between Drake and the other photographer in the photo’s caption. Nothing came of it for months, until last week when he noticed the photo had been taken down by Instagram leaving a blank space over the caption.

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Massie said he believes Instagram censored his photo at Drake’s request.

I hope my fellow photographers and friends on Instagram take the time to read this. You might remember I had an unfortunate incident with "Drake" April 4th. He and a bodyguard were intimidating and threatening to assault a photographer in a public park and I intervened non-violently and was threatened by Drake. It was briefly in the news but the other photographer and I mutually decided not to do any more interviews. Now, 7 months later, the photo I took that night of the Toronto skyline with the helicopter Drake landed in has been taken down by IG. (Look through my gallery, it's a blank spot now)They did not alert me they did so and have not answered my multiple requests for an explanation through all channels available. It violates no guidelines. All my other photos from the same location are untouched. Since the evening this happened, Drake never acknowledged this incident despite it being prominent in the media for a few weeks. Obviously, he never contacted any parties involved with an apology. From my experience with Drake, I am not surprised that he only feels bold when he thinks no one is looking and has bodyguards (or possibly lawyers) around him, but I am disappointed in Instagram. Censoring my work because a famous egomaniac wanted them to is shameful. So, I am putting the photo back up. I'd be honored if people shared it, the caption or the story in any way they like. Feel free to ask IG why this photo was removed. I assure you there are no nipples. I'd love to see this photo everywhere. I hate when bad guys win. #drake #repost #toronto #416 #yyz #ontario #canada #canon #canon_photos #viewsoftoronto #postcardsfromthe6 #lovetoronto #huffpostcanada #torontostar #igerstoronto #toptorontophoto #thankyoutoronto #toronto_insta #6ixfix #enjoycanada #explorecanada #imagesofcanada #imagesoftoronto #tourcanada #6ixwalks #1pointp #yourtoronto #1loveto #viewfrommycity #streetsoftoronto @thetorontostar @cbcnews @ctvnews @huffpostcanada @globeandmail @globalnews @bttoronto @cp24breakingnews

A photo posted by Michael Massie (@timesmikethese) on

“I read through the Instagram guidelines dozens of times. There is nothing wrong with this photo. There is nothing against the guidelines,” Massie said in an interview with Global News.

“My bigger beef with this is that Instagram would let something like that happen. People use this to share their things and I would like to consider myself a part of the Instagram community, and to actually let someone be censored just because someone is rich and famous doesn’t like what they’ve done is troublesome.”

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, restored the photo to Massie’s original post on Friday afternoon. The move follows multiple requests for an explanation from Massie and a request for comment from Global News.

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READ MORE: Facebook reinstates iconic ‘napalm girl’ photo after being accused of censorship

Social media sites often have terms of use agreements that give themselves worldwide royalty-free rights to those images – and there’s not much users can do about it, according to intellectual property lawyer Jason Leung.

“If it’s a another user that has a problem with what you’ve posted, they can contact Facebook and Facebook or Instagram could take the position that, ‘We agree – this should not be the type of content that we want on our social media site.'”

Update: Instagram provided Global News comment on this story after its publication. In an emailed statement, a spokesperson said, “The image was down for a short period of time due to a bug. It has now been restored and we apologize for any inconvenience.”

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