All Your Pics Are Belong to Us: at image hosting services, Terms and Conditions always apply

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27 Responses to “All Your Pics Are Belong to Us: at image hosting services, Terms and Conditions always apply”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I know i’m not looking at the bigger picture here but two things strike me whenever this intense debate comes up.

    1: its called photo sharing. Not show and tell, and i don’t want anyone else using my stuff

    2: So what if Flickr makes a fast buck from one of my images? in fact – go ahead, use all my images on national TV – because guess what, i’m still the creator and the more people see that work the better – no? So even if an image sharing site “shares” your work and makes a profit even – who does any referral based on that creativity come to? Yep, you and me the original photographer or artist.

    Like I said, I realize theres more too it than that, but I see it simply – my work gets out there regardless of who gets it out there, eventually I win.

    Its certainly a hot topic just now. I wouldn’t be suprized if musicians uploading music to youtube, 8tracks, etc etc face the same issues about use – I mean really, who ever reads a T.O.S. for anything? pages and pages of legalese – and the companies know 90% of people will never read the TOS.

    Good round up of the various photo sharers. oddly, this is the second article i’ve read along these lines, and neither touches on Hipstamatic, who also had a run in with their T.O.S. and have some legalese in there about their rights to use photos you upload to their FB page, etc.

  2. Anonymous says:

    “non-exclusive” is a critical part of these license terms. Make no mistake, you DO need to grant them a license to distribute your photos if you want to allow other to look at your snaps. That’s WHY you’re posting the photos in the first place. But by explicitly saying that the license that you’re granting them is non-exclusive you retain the right to anything ELSE that you want to do with them, EXCEPT grant an exclusive distribution license to anybody else.

    • Anonymous says:

      >”non-exclusive” is a critical part of these license terms

      So what? So it’s non exclusive. You’re still giving them a HORRIBLY broad license to exploit your work. It’s even BROADER than a Creative Commons Attribution license

      Why broader? Because all CC licenses prohibit use in advertising. Twitpic says they get to use you to advertise their service.

      If you haven’t noticed, most people jealously guard their pictures, and tend to not agree to such liberal terms (if they do release them as CC, it’s NC-ND or NC-SA. Check out Flickr; the CC-BY pool is the smallest). So this is far out of line with what people would agree to if it wasn’t buried in a wall of legalese. It’s an abuse of their trust.

      These services need to own up and write a license that gives them only the narrow powers they need to run effectively, rather than reserving huge swaths of power “just to be safe”.

  3. tylerkaraszewski says:

    Can we go back to using “paragraph” now, please?

  4. Anonymous says:

    More info on the Mobypicture policy and an introduction to mediaportability.com:
    http://mathys.vanabbe.com/your-content-is-yours/

  5. Anonymous says:

    Downsizing an image could also be considered a form of quotation, taking a small portion of the work instead of the whole. An image which is 25% the length and height is in effect only taking 1/16 of the image.

    “down-sizing an image in order to display it alongside the rest of a webpage impression constitutes making a `derivative’ work. In my view, it should not; it’s merely a necessary and inherent part of being an image-sharing site.”

  6. g0d5m15t4k3 says:

    So from this, only Mobypicture says your pictures are yours no matter what. All the other companies say “they are taken by you, sure, but we can use them as much as we want for any financial gain without asking you first.” Lovely!

    The more you know!

  7. noah django says:

    “On May 10th, the terms were revised again and that graf removed.”

    so… they steal your rights to your pictures, but they also have some kind of anti-street-art agenda?

    O_o

    • Anonymous says:

      They are hardly stealing the rights any more than the user is stealing the use of their storage and bandwidth.

  8. Anonymous says:

    It’s all typical legalese – outmoded language from centuries gone by, mangled by someone with their own interests at heart, fitting the nature of image-sharing sites in a manner reminiscent of shapely pegs and holes.

    It needs to be established whether down-sizing an image in order to display it alongside the rest of a webpage impression constitutes making a `derivative’ work. In my view, it should not; it’s merely a necessary and inherent part of being an image-sharing site. Derivative works should be where the subject-matter is changed within the image itself. And, crucially, the smallprint must reflect this accurately.

  9. constantskeptic says:

    Doesn’t surprise me. Why didn’t you include Facebook’s portion as well?

    • Glenn Fleishman says:

      Facebook has a somewhat different model. Here, I’m looking at sites where you may have an extremely loose association, and you could use them primarily to post a photo instead of hosting it yourself. That’s the distinction at least. It’s worth looking at the ToS for all services that host anything you write, shoot, snap, or create.

  10. Hugh says:

    Thanks Glenn. And ignore the carpers.

  11. Anonymous says:

    On thing to note on Flickr’s TOS, Part 9b relates to photos posted to the site. Part 9c, as quoted, refers to any other content beyond photos, graphics, audio or video. So this only comes into play if you’re concerned about something you might write in a flickr group or forum (at least as I understand it). Photos, graphics, audio or video are protected under a differing set of guidlines that offer a bit more protection.

    Part 9b:
    “With respect to photos, graphics, audio or video you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Yahoo! Services other than Yahoo! Groups, the license to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publicly perform and publicly display such Content on the Yahoo! Services solely for the purpose for which such Content was submitted or made available. This license exists only for as long as you elect to continue to include such Content on the Yahoo! Services and will terminate at the time you remove or Yahoo! removes such Content from the Yahoo! Services.”

  12. Hugh says:

    I’m not very familiar with how Twitpic works, but it seems to hold a special place in the market as the only image platform fully integrated into Twitter. Or am I wrong about that?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Anon #22, you might want to reconsider your position when things like this (http://www.petapixel.com/2011/05/12/cindy-sherman-photograph-sells-for-3-8-million-setting-new-record/) happen with a photo. I’m sure you’d feel differently if your ‘free to flickr’ photo went for $3.8 million…

  14. johnsu01 says:

    Here’s Nintendo’s portion, which covers photos taken with the 3DS:

    By accepting this Agreement or using a Nintendo 3DS System or the Nintendo 3DS Service, you also grant to Nintendo a worldwide, royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display your User Content in whole or in part and to incorporate your User Content in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed, including for promotional or marketing purposes. (Chapter 1, Nintendo 3DS End User License Agreement)

    And your photos can be automatically uploaded each time the device (automatically) connects to a wifi network. Can you imagine Canon or Nikon doing that? It’s especially bad when you consider that one of the main markets for the 3DS (and some of the services you name) is kids.

    More detail is at http://www.defectivebydesign.org/nintendo. (That’s where the above quote came from, and I’m involved with the campaign.)

  15. sterling says:

    This is one of the big reasons why I wrote my own media service for my Twitter client of choice. Files are uploaded to my personally hosted WordPress install, and a shortened URL, using my own personally hosted URL shortening service, are spit back.
    All these services make life so much fun and social, but I do not like granting every startup trying to sell their soul to whoever will buy them for the biggest payday permission to use my stuff. Even if it is just a dumb picture of my cat.

  16. kevinv says:

    Posterous’ seems particularly broad, allowing them to modify and to make derivative works.

    Guess i’ll switch to mobypicture or img.ly.

  17. Oh, Hi Bob. Bob. says:

    How does this even work for apps which have 3rd-party api integration to such sites as twitpic, etc? they’re not presenting twitpic’s ToS when you install the app or post the photo, so how would the user even know? They are party to an agreement or terms which they aren’t aware.

    • Glenn Fleishman says:

      That’s an excellent point. I expect that without being presented with the terms, if your copyright were used in a manner you didn’t approve of, you might have a case.

      A smart third-party app would present you with all the relevant ToS (theirs and others) when you sign up, but I don’t recall seeing such.

      Some third-party apps require that you register with a given site first, in which case, the registration would present you with the ToS.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Here is the bit from the Yahoo! terms of service that directly applies to photographs and videos:

    Original location: http://info.yahoo.com/legal/us/yahoo/utos/utos-173.html

    With respect to photos, graphics, audio or video you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Yahoo! Services other than Yahoo! Groups, the license to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publicly perform and publicly display such Content on the Yahoo! Services solely for the purpose for which such Content was submitted or made available. This license exists only for as long as you elect to continue to include such Content on the Yahoo! Services and will terminate at the time you remove or Yahoo! removes such Content from the Yahoo! Services.

    As you can see, Flickr is one of the good services. Flickr/Yahoo! does not take a permanent non-revocable license to the photos you upload. They only ask you to grant the minimum rights to your work necessary for Flickr to display the photo on their service. Once you delete it, Yahoo! terminates any rights they had on the IP.

  19. Kutuzof says:

    Is there any image sharing site that automatically applies the creative commons license to any uploaded images? (provided no earlier copyrights existed)

  20. Anonymous says:

    UPDATE: The Flickr Blog this morning directly addressed this issue:

    http://blog.flickr.net/en/2011/05/13/at-flickr-your-photos-are-always-yours/

  21. Martin Pannier says:

    At Picuous we have very similar terms to Mobypicture and we make sure that we only ask the smallest license possible to do what we have to do :)

    The most shocking thing about Twitpic/yFrog/etc. is how Seesmic, Tweetdeck and other clients sign you in without any mention of their Terms, using your Twitter credentials—all in the goal of user experience.

    But what about copyright infringement? Even if you’re its owner, when your picture is used on another website without your authorization, all you have left is legal action—and it’s rarely worth the time or the energy…

    Ownership, attribution and tracking go hand in hand and only we provide all three. If you’re interested in these problems, you should check out our service :)
    http://picuous.com

  22. MrScience says:

    I’m rather partial to SmugMug (I host my PAX photos there)… here’s the relevant snip from their TOS:

    You retain the copyright in any User Content you post on the Site. SmugMug neither has nor wants any ownership of your Content. However, by uploading and/or posting any User Content to the Site, you grant SmugMug a perpetual, nonexclusive and royalty-free right to use the User Content and the name that is submitted in connection with such User Content, as is reasonably necessary to display the User Content, provide the Services and to facilitate, at Content Owner’s direction, the license of Photos or the sale of Products on the Site.

    (emphasis mine)

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