Update:

That was fast – after a bit of a Twitter outcry, the terms and conditions have been changed (again) to remove the offending paragraph about being barred from selling your own photos to media agencies, although they are still retaining their rights to do the same.

They have posted an update on their blog.


People who use Twitpic to display photos they have taken and uploaded to the Twitter website might want to rethink their use of the website, especially if you are the sort of person who tends to be at newsworthy locations.

The company has recently updated its terms and conditions and a short paragraph has turned into a lengthy series of rules and regs.

However, most significantly, if you upload a photo to Twitpic you are seemingly barred from reselling the photo to anyone – unless (I think) you have a copy of the photo elsewhere which can then be sold to newspapers etc.

In addition, and more perniciously, uploading a photo to Twitpic then would seem to grant them a free license to sell the photo themselves and keep the money.

It’s not often that a newsworthy photo is uploaded to Twitpic, but the famous photo of the downed plane in New York’s Hudson River was uploaded by a Twitter user to that photo website.

Yes, the website needs to earn money, and they have advertising on the website, and if they wanted to make money from selling photos, then they should have set up a revenue share deal similar to the agreement Flickr has with Getty Images.

I’m sure lots of users of the service would have been delighted to have them act as a media agent for news worthy photos – on a revenue shared deal.

Hattip @flashboy

Old (caught by Archive.org)

Copyright

By uploading your photos to Twitpic you give Twitpic permission to use or distribute your photos on Twitpic.com or affiliated sites

All images uploaded are copyright © their respective owners

New (at http://twitpic.com/terms.do) My highlights

Copyright

By uploading content to Twitpic you give Twitpic permission to use or distribute your content on Twitpic.com or affiliated sites.

You may not grant permission to photographic agencies, photographic libraries, media organizations, news organizations, entertainment organizations, media libraries, or media agencies to retrieve from Twitpic for distribution, license, or any other use, content you have uploaded to Twitpic.

All content uploaded to Twitpic is copyright the respective owners. If you publish content uploaded to Twitpic on the web for personal and noncommercial purposes you are required to link back to the original content page on Twitpic and attribute credit to Twitpic as the source where you have taken the content. For example a Twitter “retweet” is acceptable provided the original content link on Twitpic is what is retweeted. It is not acceptable to copy or save another user’s content from Twitpic and upload to other sites for redistribution and dissemination.

To publish content for any commercial purpose or for distribution beyond the acceptable Twitter “retweet” which links back to the original content page on Twitpic, whether online, in print publication, television, or any other format, you are required to obtain permission from Twitpic in advance of said usage and attribute credit to Twitpic as the source where you have obtained the content. No user may grant a third party permission to copy or save content that has been uploaded to Twitpic.

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. You also hereby grant each user of the Service a non-exclusive license to access your Content through the Service, and to use, reproduce, distribute, display and perform such Content as permitted through the functionality of the Service and under these Terms of Service. The above licenses granted by you in media Content you submit to the Service terminate within a commercially reasonable time after you remove or delete your media from the Service provided that any sub-license by Twitpic to use, reproduce or distribute the Content prior to such termination may be perpetual and irrevocable.

You understand and agree, however, that Twitpic may retain, but not display, distribute, or perform, server copies of your media that have been removed or deleted. The above licenses granted by you in user comments you submit are perpetual and irrevocable.

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12 Comments

  1. skink74

    I’m not a lawyer, or affiliated with twitpic in any way, but isn’t the “in connection with the Service” bit important here? You’re granting a license for them to use the pictures to promote their site/service, but not a worldwide right to just sell your photos to anyone.

    • IanVisits

      It could be that simple – but “the service” could encompass a vast range of services offered by the company, including the sale of the photos to media agencies and other buyers.

      It’s very badly worded and the general rule is the more wordy the T&C’s the more likely a company wants more control than it really needs.

    • Anon

      Skink74, you quoted too narrowly. The relevant section is “in connection with the Service and Twitpic’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business”. (My emphasis.) This would allow Twitpic or any affiliated business to use uploaded images in connection with any business they conduct. In other words, no constraint.

      I’d also suggest having a close look at: “provided that any sub-license by Twitpic to use, reproduce or distribute the Content prior to such termination may be perpetual and irrevocable”. In other words, even if the owner of an image deletes it from Twitpic, if there is a sub-licence in place then it will stand forever.

      A much simpler and less pernicious terms of service would say something along the lines of “You retain all ownership rights in your submissions to Twitpic, however, by submitting images you grant Twitpic fully transferable rights to to use, reproduce, distribute, modify, transmit, prepare derivative works of, display and produce the material in connection with Twitpic’s service, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service in any media formats and through any media channels”.

      The copyright owner would then be granting a licence for Twitpic to distribute and display images via a specific service (not its entire business or any future business or any affiliates’ business), plus allow any submitted images to be captured and used in promo or news coverage of the service. I believe some similar services to Twitpic have terms similar to this.

      Note, I am not a lawyer but I am a former editor, chief sub-editor, commissioning editor and picture editor.

    • bonniebell

      Yes, but who is to say what they will choose to connect themselves to? Additionally, you’re also giving them license to alter your photos! That does bother me.

  2. skink74

    I agree, it would be great if sites published T&Cs in text that you didn’t need to be a trained lawyer to parse. But you could argue that the previous version didn’t specify enough.

    The first set of changes could be seen as a more explicit attempt by twitpic to stop sites like the Daily Mail from simply taking users photos and publishing them and then trying to weasel their way out of having to pay. Not that twitpic are doing this purely to protect users I imagine, but still.

  3. cori

    Sorry to see that this still has legs, even though I don’t use the service, and I’m glad to see your update.

    Here’s the thing, though…. I don’t think the terms *ever* indicated that you couldn’t sell your photos, or do whatever you wanted with them. The important bits (IMO) are here:
    “You may not grant permission … to retrieve from Twitpic [emphasis mine] for distribution, license, or any other use, content you have uploaded to Twitpic.”

    In other words, they didn;t want you selling the rights for media firms to get the photo from their site – they didn’t want to pay bandwidth charges for your (or my, whatever) media play.

    Poorly worded, I agree, but a perfectly understandable point of view…

    • IanVisits

      It could be that simple, but then again we are probably talking about saving a few hundred page impressions per week at best where a photographer tells the media agency to look at the image on Twitpic.

      Not even close to being worth the effort of rewriting the T&C’s for.

  4. If lawyers wrote things so they were clear and explicit, understandable by non-lawers they’d be out of a job. I suspect, if the over-arching interpretation of this change is the correct one (who knows?) then in English/Welsh law lawyers could have a field day claiming it was unreasonably onerous and not fairly entered into.

    But I’m not a lawyer so what the hell do I know ………

  5. I think it’s pretty clear what they mean with them signing a deal with celebrity photo agency WENN (today).

    If it’s true and they have signed a deal then they will now become an AFFILIATE which means ‘transferable license’ is in action. Basically export any pictures you have and move to self hosting as it’s the only guaranteed way to keep your full copyright in tact.

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