Terms

All posts tagged Terms

I subscribed to the magazine in the past, and since a year or so I’ve been subscribing again. I really like the magazine, it’s got great articles and it’s got magnificent images. And they even allow you to submit your images for possible inclusion in the magazine. They have this “Picture of the Month” going on every month and if you get to be it (or your image, that is), you can win amazing prizes and you get to be published in the magazine. It would be a great thing for your portfolio to be featured in the magazine. I would like to, in any case.

So off I went, to the website of National Geographic, where I’m instantly prompted to subscribe. That is, sign up, give all my information (which, if you read the terms and conditions, you swear to be up to date and correct). And, paranoid as I am (and I’m probably one of the very few who actually reads these terms and conditions), I quickly scroll through the text and come to a full stop at point five. I blink. It must be lack of sleep. I blink again. The text is still there.
Actually, to be honest, this happened already quite awhile ago, and I’m not quite sure why I write about this only now, but anyway… I wrote them a mail several times in which I ask to clarify the terms set out on their website, but I didn’t get any reply. Any sign of life. Not even an automated response with “thanks for your mail, we will ignore you like the plague”.

I re-read the text, just to make sure I read what I read. I quote point five to you below (courtesy of the Terms and Conditions on http://www.nationalgeographic.com/community/terms/

For clarity, you retain all of your ownership rights in material you upload, comments you post, or other content you provide to the Site (“User Content”). By uploading User Content, you grant National Geographic (which includes its subsidiaries, affiliates, joint venturers, and licensees) the following rights: a royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual license to display, distribute, reproduce, and create derivatives of the User Content, in whole or in part, without further review or participation from you, in any medium now existing or subsequently developed, in editorial, commercial, promotional, and trade uses in connection with NG Products. National Geographic may license or sublicense, in whole or in part, to third parties rights in User Content as appropriate to distribute, market, or promote such NG Products. An NG Product is defined as “a product of National Geographic, a subsidiary, affiliate, joint venturer, or licensee of National Geographic, in any language, over which National Geographic has “Editorial Control.” For the purposes of this Agreement, “Editorial Control” means the right to review, consult regarding, formulate standards for, or to exercise a veto over the appearance, text, use, or promotion of the NG Product. You also agree that National Geographic may make User Content available to users of the Site who may display and redistribute it in the same way that National Geographic makes all other Content available.

So… In any case I retain all of my ownership rights in material that I upload. But…
And it’s a big But (big bones, can’t help it!):
Upon accepting the Terms and Conditions I grant National Geographic (which includes its subsidiaries, affiliates, joint venturers, and licensees) the following rights: a royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual license to display, distribute, reproduce, and create derivatives of the User Content, in whole or in part, without further review or participation from you, in any medium now existing or subsequently developed, in editorial, commercial, promotional, and trade uses in connection with NG Products.

And the following sentence, equally disturbing:
Upon accepting the Terms and Conditions I allow National Geographic to license or sublicense, in whole or in part, to third parties rights in User Content as appropriate to distribute, market, or promote such NG Products.

And the one that’s screaming injustice in my face:
Upon accepting the Terms and Conditions I also agree that National Geographic may make User Content available to users of the Site who may display and redistribute it in the same way that National Geographic makes all other Content available.

So summarized: I’m fucked if I agree to the Terms and Conditions, because regardless of the fact that they let me retain all my ownership to what I upload, National Geographic can do whatever the hell they please with my stuff, but National Geographic makes me agree that they allow Users of the Site to do whatever the hell they please with my stuff. That’s in any case how I read the “may make User Content available to users of the site who may display and redistribute it in the same way that National Geographic makes all other Content available”.
So National Geographic may sell User Content as prints or stock (of which profits the User in question doesn’t see a penny of commission), but since National Geographic makes Content available in this way users of the Site may also sell that same Content according to the rules stated by National Geographic.

So how does that sound fair to you? It kinda means that I now co-own my images with National Geographic and every other user of the National Geographic website.
I invite everyone, National Geographic employees included, to explain to me how and where -if I am- I am misunderstanding these rules.

I’m sure by now most of you have heard about Google+, right?
After trying and trying, and failing and failing to bring something on the market which could compete with Facebook and Twitter, they’ve come up with Google+. A Facebook clone with an extra feature called Circles or something like that in which you can create groups of your contacts to share specific things with, I think is how it works (though I think you can do something similar already in Facebook, too, so in the end it seems that Google just made something existing with a better and cleaner interface, and is probably going to fail again).

Anyway… I’ve written before about both Facebook and Google and their Terms and Conditions and along the way I’ve written a couple of other pieces in which I warn everyone to always read the small print before signing up and agreeing to anything.

Right now Google+ is still in the “invite-only” stage, and if you get your hands on it, I again stress that you read Google’s Terms and Conditions (which are by the way Google’s GENERAL Terms and Conditions and not only for Google+), because they’re having another go at building a nice little catalog free of use for them. You probably wouldn’t really notice it so much with google mail or using the search engine, but if Google+ is more like Facebook or Twitpic, they will get a handsome amount of imagery uploaded to their servers. And the below quote tells you exactly what they *COULD* do with that content:

11. Content license from you
11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.

11.2 You agree that this license includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.

11.3 You understand that Google, in performing the required technical steps to provide the Services to our users, may (a) transmit or distribute your Content over various public networks and in various media; and (b) make such changes to your Content as are necessary to conform and adapt that Content to the technical requirements of connecting networks, devices, services or media. You agree that this license shall permit Google to take these actions.

11.4 You confirm and warrant to Google that you have all the rights, power and authority necessary to grant the above license.

They do write that This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services, but you never know where this little bit is conveniently forgotten or overlooked.
So…. Once again, to all of you: READ THE SMALL PRINT BEFORE YOU AGREE!!!

Some time ago I wrote a little something about how Google and Facebook (and then some photo competitions) had some dubious paragraphs in their terms and conditions which allowed them to basically do with what they want with the images you upload to their server/service.
I’ve always been careful to the point of paranoia when it comes to these kind of things, which is why I don’t upload any images (of significance) to for example Facebook, or if I do they are so small (and/or with a big fat watermark across) that no one can do anything with them.
I also don’t have a TwitPic account. Not for that particular reason, although right now that might just become the reason.
Three weeks ago TwitPic has sneakily changed their terms and conditions in regards to the image material uploaded to their website.
Since May 10th they’ve added/modified a paragraph that reads:

You retain all ownership rights to Content uploaded to Twitpic. However, by submitting Content to Twitpic, you hereby grant Twitpic a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service and Twitpic’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels.

Of course the people who DO read the Terms and keep an eye on what’s changing immediately started demanding some clarification about what the hell is going, after which TwitPic replied the following with a blog post:

We recently made changes to our terms of service that has caused some confusion for our users. First off I want to apologize for that confusion and our lack of clarity. We’ve updated our terms again to be more clear and to also show that you still own your content.

Our goal with Twitpic from the beginning has been to create the best way to share your photos and videos on Twitter and to always keep our user’s best interest at the forefront.

To clarify our ToS regarding ownership, you the user retain all copyrights to your photos and videos, it’s your content. Our terms state by uploading content to Twitpic you allow us to distribute that content on twitpic.com and our affiliated partners. This is standard among most user-generated content sites (including Twitter). If you delete a photo or video from Twitpic, that content is no longer viewable.

As we’ve grown, Twitpic has been a tool for the spread of breaking news and events. Since then we’ve seen this content being taken without permission and misused. We’ve partnered with organizations to help us combat this and to distribute newsworthy content in the appropriate manner. This has been done to protect your content from organizations who have in the past taken content without permission. As recently as last month, a Twitpic user uploaded newsworthy images of an incident on a plane, and many commercial entities took the image from Twitpic and used it without the user’s permission.

To sum everything up, you the user retain all copyrights to your photos/videos and we are very sorry by the confusion our old updated terms of service caused.

So they sneakily emphasize that you DO retain the copyright to all your work, but they fail to inform the users about the deal they made with for example a News Agency.
TwitPic has indeed been known to be the source of a good number of news worthy images, but now it seems that they’ve caught up with the moneymaking machine and are going to cash in on what the users are uploading to their services, without actually compensating the users for it.
Now does that sound fair to you?
If you ARE using TwitPic, make sure you put a big watermark across the image, so that everyone knows that the image they’re looking at is yours.

Recently there’s been a whole riot about Google’s new browser Chrome. Or rather… Its terms and conditions.
Most of the people just sign up, register, and check the box I agree for for a wide range of different things and applications without actually reading the small print. In most cases that’s ok, because most people don’t really have anything of value to share.
But if you’re a photographer and you have your “Content”, as they officially call it, posted on a website, it’s darn important to know what you sign up for.

Take for example Google Chrome. In point 11 of their first version of the Terms of Service it read

By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any content which you submit, post or display on or through, the services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the services and may be revoked for certain services as defined in the additional terms of those services.

Thanks to the people who actually DID read the Terms of Service and started making a big deal out of it, this was changed into something a lot more agreeable and a lot less dodgy:

You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.

This is still quite an open book, but at least if you catch them using your pictures without permission, you can knock on their door and hold up your hand.

But then the other big fish… Facebook.
I usually don’t put any pictures of importance on those kind of sites anyway, but I must shamefully admit that this one also slipped through my attention. I didn’t read the Terms of Use on their website when I signed up.
But here, all you photographers, I know you’re on there, so read this, and read this carefully. This is an excerpt from Facebook’s Terms of Use:

When you post User Content to the Site, you authorize and direct us to make such copies thereof as we deem necessary in order to facilitate the posting and storage of the User Content on the Site. By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content. Facebook does not assert any ownership over your User Content; rather, as between us and you, subject to the rights granted to us in these Terms, you retain full ownership of all of your User Content and any intellectual property rights or other proprietary rights associated with your User Content.

This basically means that no matter what images you post on Facebook, they can use them whenever, wherever, how ever, how much, and in what possible edited way they want, and they can even sub license YOUR images. And you’re not getting paid a dime.
So really, what you want to do if you must post images on Facebook and they are sellable and precious to you, is either make the resolution so low that they can’t really reproduce the image, or put a big fat watermark right in the middle of it.

Ok, maybe the chances are slim that they will actually use the pictures, but I know I would be seriously annoyed if I’d find out about something like that and there’s nothing I could do about it.

What the h*ll's going on?? Do you have the right??

What the hell's going on?? Do you have the right??

Anyway….
Some food for thought.