A story in TechCrunch EU highlights a blowup over the ToS (Terms of Service) of Twitpic the photo sharing app for Twitter that many people use to share breaking news images from their phone–images like Daniel Morel’s Haiti images and subsequent lawsuit (here) and also the first image of the plane landing in the Hudson river. TwitPic amended their terms to coincide with an announcement that they’ve partnered with news agency WENN to sell the images people post. According to thenextweb.com, “The new licensing deal ensures that users retain the copyright but by uploading photos service, the company is able to exploit the photos for commercial gain.”

The changes to Twitpic’s ToS that will impact users the most as reported by Hawke’s Bay Today are:

“…you hereby grant Twitpic a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of…” and “…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.”

Twitpic is not the only photo sharing app with heinous ToS’es. According to thenextweb.com:

picplzColoryFrogInstagramFlickr, and Lockerz (fka Plixi), all have similar clauses to those of Twitpic

picplz users agree to, among other things,

“the right of the service “and its affiliates a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable and fully sublicensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such Content in connection with: (i) providing and promoting the Service; and/or (ii) exercising the rights granted in these Terms.”

Both stories point to MobyPicture as the solution for photographers who want to retain their rights. According to TechCrunch EU:

They’ve just now tweaked their ToS conditions thus:

“Content Ownership:
All rights of uploaded content by our users remain the property of our users and can in no means be sold or used by Mobypicture or affiliated third party partners without consent from the user. This means Mobypicture will NEVER sell the rights to your shared photos and videos. Your content is yours!”

As these companies try to figure out what they can get away with and how they can become profitable it’s important for professional photographers to voice their opinion to help them understand the needs and concerns they have for using their service. It looks like deleting your Twitpic account and moving to MobyPicture is a good way to do that.

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  1. Quick Q: Did you mean to write “Twitpic is the only photo sharing app…” or “Twitpic is not the only photo sharing app…?”

  2. Everyone seems to be in the rights grab game theses days. Just another way this industry is going to hell.

  3. Thanks Rob. Twitpic account deleted.

  4. How do we delete images from Twitpic?

  5. I may be exaggerating, but this feels as wrong as if Gmail were to claim the right to using our emails for commercial gain. Oh but wait, there are those ads…

    • @Dani, I think the analogy would be Gmail selling the text and other content of our emails…I assume and hope their TOS doesn’t allow that.

    • @Dani, Not in the same at all. Gmail finds keywords in your email and displays ads based on them. Twitpic takes your pictures and sells copies of them. For them to be the same GMail would be asserting a right that would ordinarily be reserved for the copyright holder, which they do not. One involves selling your work, the other involves selling things to you based on what you talk about.

      • @Harlan Sanders, I agree and understand completely. Please notice that I said, “as if Gmail were to claim…” Emphasis on the word IF. I was only using a hypothetical situation as a comparison to express my outrage at Twitpic’s TOS.

        • @Dani, I misread that and thought it was an accusation… My bad.

  6. Ugh.. only I should have the right to profit from my pics should I choose to do so. Wish I could download my entire twitpic library then just wipe it clean.

    • @Becca,

      Posterous have an Adobe Air app that does not work. http://posterous.com/switch/twitpic/
      Yeah it does not work but if they fix it then it could be worth a try.

      One thing the app can do though is export all your images to your computer (unfortutnetly without descriptions). Which is a good thing.

      • @StevenBullen,

        Thanks! I’ll give that a shot and cross my fingers. I contacted twitpic and they said the download feature will be available “eventually” but not now. Their suggestion was to save each one individually, but uhhh I’m not doing that for 1000+ pics!


        • @Becca, Well your in luck because the download part worked a treat, it was the uploading to posterous that didn’t work.

  7. Someone pointed out to me in another forum that TwitPic has responded with http://blog.twitpic.com/2011/05/your-content-your-copyrights/

    I call shenanigans, that they’re just stating the obvious to assuage folks.

    “We’ve updated our terms again to be more clear and to also show that you still own your content.”

    “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.”

    Of course, copyright ALWAYS remains with the creator. The creator either opts to explicitly transfer copyright or, in most cases, grant usage. What terms of use like theirs do is handle the latter for you (most don’t even read the TOS they’re agreeing to). To claim they’re only doing this to protect your content:

    “This has been done to protect your content from organizations who have in the past taken content without permission.”

    …is an empty promise. I doubt highly that TwitPic would go to bat for you in cases where photos you uploaded to it were used by a 3rd party without your consent. In fact, I agree with Twitter user @jakerome who wrote:


    “Doublespeak from @Twitpic. Tis OK for websites to use photos w/o your permission but only if Twitpic gets the whole cut http://bit.ly/lzJxKg

    • @calanan,
      I’ve noticed companies using this “you still own the copyright” claim to assuage users who don’t understand that granting a license is the problem.

      • @A Photo Editor, You do need to grant a license in order for them to legally display your work to your friends. But twitpic’s and some other services’ licenses are overly permissive. The issue isn’t licensing in and of itself, the issue is what you grant a license to do.

        If the license is “You grant us the right to display your image, revoked at the time at which you delete it” that’s fine, and that’s the legal minimum for their service to actually work.

  8. ToS for Yahoo! and Flickr is pretty dense but I don’t think it is the same as the above.
    and Flickr Pro, which does not seem to replace any ToS in the Yahoo! ones relevant to this issue.

    Relevant ToS for Yahoo! as far as I can tell below:


    Yahoo! does not claim ownership of Content you submit or make available for inclusion on the Yahoo! Services. However, with respect to Content you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Yahoo! Services, you grant Yahoo! the following worldwide, royalty-free and non-exclusive license(s), as applicable:

    With respect to Content you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of Yahoo! Groups, the license to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publicly perform and publicly display such Content on the Yahoo! Services solely for the purposes of providing and promoting the specific Yahoo! Group to 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.

    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.

    With respect to Content other than 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 perpetual, irrevocable and fully sublicensable license to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform and publicly display such Content (in whole or in part) and to incorporate such Content into other works in any format or medium now known or later developed.

    “Publicly accessible” areas of the Yahoo! Services are those areas of the Yahoo! network of properties that are intended by Yahoo! to be available to the general public. By way of example, publicly accessible areas of the Yahoo! Services would include Yahoo! Message Boards and portions of Yahoo! Groups and Flickr that are open to both members and visitors. However, publicly accessible areas of the Yahoo! Services would not include portions of Yahoo! Groups that are limited to members, Yahoo! services intended for private communication such as Yahoo! Mail or Yahoo! Messenger, or areas off of the Yahoo! network of properties such as portions of World Wide Web sites that are accessible via hypertext or other links but are not hosted or served by Yahoo!.

    • @Ed, I was just looking at Flickr too, for pro accounts at least, and it does seem the license to Flickr is only to allow them to host the photos.

      So can we put Flickr back into the category of “good” places to host photos?

      • I had always been under the impression that the Flickr/Yahoo Terms of Service were pretty clean…

        However, I would love for a trusted, pro-copyright/pro-photographer lawyer to come weigh in on this discussion — and to explain or decipher some of the TOS cited here (in terms we could all easily understand).

        For example, with regard to Section 9 of Yahoo’s/Flickr’s TOS cited by Ed above: I’m not even totally clear on what they mean by “Yahoo! Services” — where/how do they define “Services”? or “publicly accessible areas”?

        Flickr is essentially a “publicly accessible area,” isn’t it? (Although you can choose to make images viewable only by friends and/or family, or you can upload images to Flickr and make them viewable only by you [not sure why anyone would bother to do that, but it is possible!].) However most people’s images are “public” and therefore viewable by anyone who visits Flickr — whether or not they have an account, and whether or not they are your friend/family/contact.

        So then, what do the Yahoo/Flickr TOS _really_ mean…?

      • @TimR, You’re exactly right. You NEED to give them a license to display your image in order for them to host it, otherwise the service is pointless. You also need to give them the right to copy the image and retain copies in order for them to have a backup system.

  9. TwitPic has always cared about their users, so we are doing what we can to calm everyone down. We are only selling the photos from ~150 celebrity users, and even those users have the ability to immediately opt-out if they want to.

    We realize the TOS applies to any user, so we are trying to figure out how we can legally say that it only applies to a small portion of users without being totally vague.

    We aren’t ignoring our users and we hear them loud and clear.

    • @Ryan LeFevre, Why do “celebrity users” need to opt out? Shouldn’t they be asked to opt in?

    • I was just informed via Twitter that my response was being taken as arrogant. This was not my intention, my apologies. I just meant to say that we are doing what we can to make things right for our users in light of the recent changes.

      @Brooks, it would be hard to form a contract without knowing what users the contract would entail. Opting-out for those users will be very fast and simple, so we hope they don’t find it too much trouble in the event that they wish to do so.

      • @Ryan LeFevre, It may not have been your intention to be arrogant, but a rose is always a rose even if you call it a violet. The right to sell and reuse in any way is a right that should be exclusively reserved for the original copyright holder. Any company who would believe that it would be OK to slip that into a ToS is showing an arrogant disregard for copyright holders’ IP. In effect what that says to me is that twitpic believes that I’m stupid enough to upload photos and give up a right ordinarily reserved for me as the copyright holder…

    • @Ryan LeFevre,

      Just because you want the right to profit off of the content of only 150 or so celebrity users doesn’t make it any less of a crappy deal. And having the system set up so users have to opt out instead of opt in is sneaky sneaky.

    • @Ryan LeFevre,

      While you are “trying to figure out how we can legally say that it only applies to a small portion of users” I have deleted all my photos and deleted my account.

      Some things simply need to be figured out before you roll it out. Cart before the horse..

      • @John Rees, Yep and I will be joining that club among many others no doubt.

    • @Ryan LeFevre, BTW: http://blog.twitpic.com/2011/05/your-content-your-copyrights/

      “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.”

      Reread “We’ve partnered with organizations to help us combat this and to distribute newsworthy content in the appropriate manner.” That does NOT sound like you are looking at 150 or so celebrities…

    • @Ryan LeFevre, so what happens when those celebrities upload photos that DO NOT belong to them? I’ve had several celebrities find pictures I took and upload them to their own accounts. Are you planning to check that each of these celebrities from whom you’re taking and commercially exploiting pictures even owns the copyright in the first place? Why on earth would you think that just because a person uploads a photo he also owns it? And why are “celebrities” due any less copyright protection than everyone else?

      • @maryelle, That’s true. Under DCMA they lose the safe harbor clause for their active role in distribution. If this happens, sue twitpic because they would no longer qualify for safeharbor and you could probably get a nice payout (plus punish a bunch of arrogant pricks who think they can steal photographers’ work).

    • @Ryan LeFevre, Were these ~150 celebrity users approached about this plan? For most celebrities, their twitter accounts and twitpic accounts are essentially means of self-promotion. The many entertainment blogs/sites who freely republish these images may technically be committing copyright infringement, but I can’t say I’ve ever heard of a celebrity trying to enforce his or her copyright. Why would they? I imagine most celebrities and their publicists regard these images as PR handouts. Will these celebrity users really support the idea that a paparazzi agency is now selling the images they took of themselves?

  10. I call shenanigans on people writing about T&Cs without reading them first.

  11. Tumblr is not much better either. TOS

    You have permission to post this.

    You represent and warrant that you own all rights to any content submitted. You will indemnify and hold harmless this site, its parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, customers, vendors, hosts, officers and employees from any liability, damage or cost (including reasonable attorneys. fees and cost) from (i) any claim or demand made by any third party due to or arising out of any content you submit.

    This site may distribute this post.

    By uploading, submitting or otherwise disclosing or distributing content for display or inclusion on this site, you give this site unlimited license in perpetuity to the content and the information therein.

    Will this stop me from selling my work?

    • @Chris Jay, like Flickr, the grant of license to Tumblr is only “…in order to provide the Services.”

      Hosting sites need a license in order to do their hosting.

      I didn’t find the representation and warranty above when I just looked at the Tumblr T&Cs, but such terms just hold a user responsible if they upload content that isn’t theirs or otherwise breaks the law.

      • @TimR,
        Sorry I need licenses for dummies. “in order to provide the services.” Is this bad or good for my work? Can this be my professional( if you can put tumblr and pro in the same sentence.) photo blog, or not?

        • @Chris Jay,
          I’m not an expert, but I do have some experience with these types of things, and the Tumblr terms of service seem about as good as it gets for free hosting that’s meant to be viewed by the public. I think the reason they have to have such complicated licensing terms is that Tumblr has to sign an agreement with the server farm company that hosts everything, and that company makes Tumblr promise that they have obtained all the necessary rights to the content.

          But Tumblr, or any company, could in the future sneak in a change to the terms, so we all have to be careful I guess.

  12. Noah Everett is the founder of Twitpic. Feel free to send him some tweets and let him know how you feel…..@Noaheverett

  13. Can someone shed me some wisdom on image sharing services?…

    When posting on the many different places you can share photos, you need to be careful of what usage rights you are giving the service. Yes, that means that you have to carefully read the legalize in the ToS, which sucks. But if you don’t, you may be …

  14. We should all spread the word about this as much as possible, in order to encourage new photo sharing services like MobyPicture, and hopefully to get existing sites like Flickr and Twitpic to change their TOS.

  15. The true nature (greed) of those who provide “free services” via social media site such as Twitpic will show through as changes are made to their ToS. As it goes, you should always be wary of any site that you can use for free.

    I also think anyone making images available on the web should do so with caution, use the appropriate res and size to minimize theft.

    • @Ed –

      Why is it necessarily ‘greed’? You should know by now that very (VERY) few things are ‘free’. According to Alexa (yes, not the most accurate, but humor me), TwitPic is the 107th most trafficked site on the Internet. Out of 130-some million. That’s a lot of hardware, software, bandwidth and likely manpower to make that happen.

      I guess it’s hard to fault people for having this ‘gimme free’ mentality of the Internet, especially since many sites have been successful in hiding its business needs behind advertising, ‘freemium’, or other subsidization.

      I once ran a popular (in its niche) website that was about 1/10th of the site of TwitPic in worldwide traffic, but it still accounted for between 13 – 15 million requests for media (images, etc – much like TwitPic) per day.

      My costs were actually pretty negligible for a site of its own size, but advertising still couldn’t cover the costs alone, and I wasn’t in a position (contractually) to implement any other kind of ‘invisible’ funding. With the rise of ad-blocking, and the fall of online advertiser spending due to the economy (and I mean ‘legitimate’ advertising – known, trusted products vs “Punch The Monkey” crap), it’s becoming increasingly difficult to make ends meet on free services.

      Therefore, it almost sounds like TwitPic is hurtin’.

      And before everyone attacks me, let me just say that while I definitely don’t agree with TP’s idea, I also think its their underhanded delivery that’s more the story here. Would people have been more ‘okay’ with the picture author/owner getting a percentage of whatever TwitPic makes on such a sale, if that would keep them afloat?

      Sure, there are a fistful of other services out there that do similar things, but if you cut out a large player, that traffic will outflow somewhere, and those other services are going to run into the same exact issues.

      There is no ‘free’ – maybe a perception of it, but there will always be bills to pay.

      • @Morgon, Considered your response humored. I can hardly disagree with you on the majority of points made. I actually like how you have convey some very valid thoughts.
        I will return to the “Greed”motivation since the ToS doesn’t provide the use any out other that to delete and move on. If TP is having financial difficulties they should institute tiered memberships. There can still be a free element but what you get is nominal at best, and the issue is resolved. Or they find another way to bring advertisers to their realm of the social media empire. The terms used in the ToS forcibly removes rights created and actually reduces the desirability of the community. Bottom line and I think we both agree on this how they have gone about business is offensive, disrespectful, because when you snatch every rights associated with an image it conveys the wrong message. Especially when a piece of the pie is not offered to the CR owner.

  16. […] “TwitPic Plans To Sell Your Images So It Can Profit” Rob Haggart of A Photo Editor writes about an alarming updating to the TwitPic terms of […]

  17. FWIW – Instagram’s ToS does not include a “fully sublicensable right to use” clause.

    Thus on it’s face it appears they are only asking for rights needed to display the content on the Instagram service.

  18. Is it any surprise that “free” services have to find a way to monetize their users or their users’ work? I avoid using free services for exactly this reason. The terms of service may be ok now, but at some point, they have to make a buck. If their not charging me, they’re going to use me.

    SmugMug has a very good photo web service for a reasonable price.

    • @Tom CF,
      Exactly, “free” is never just free. Can’t blame companies who offer these services and try to make money. It’s the sneaky way they go about it knowing vast majority of the people have no idea what they’ve signed up for.

      • @shahn, Is it really that sneaky? The terms of service are there when you sign up. They’re not hard to find, and the relevant bits aren’t hard to scan to and find either. There’s legalese but I don’t think that’s the fault of the services. They’re forced to do that or leave themselves open to lawsuits in the other direction. Most people won’t care if their images are used to make a buck. But if you’re a pro, you need to read all contracts when you’re livelihood is on the line.

        • @Tom CF,
          When you’re dealing with lay people, legalese contract does them no good… even if they bother reading it in the first place.

          When it’s something as important as a photographer’s hard work (or even someone’s personal picture).. and the risk of it being used in “any shape or form”, then I do think hiding it in a contract is sneaky.

          Legality aside, where are the ethics in using someone’s weakness/irresponsibility to make a quick buck?

          Would make sense for warning signs to pop-up when using a website. For instance, if someone wants to upload a picture then they have to agree to a pop-up window that specifies where it will be used. Then the user can choose to upload or not.

          • @shahn, If photography is your business, then you are not a layperson, and you need to pay attention to the legal stuff. The legalese is not even all that difficult.

        • @Tom CF, Yes it’s sneaky. They’re changing it mid-stream and automatically opting in existing users. It isn’t sneaky for a new user, but it is for their thousands of existing users.

  19. You have slandered Flickr with your libel. I hope they sue. I’m sick of people making these unfounded accusations against a site that is actually doing the correct thing for their users.

  20. I saw this coming, trashed my “Shitter” account months ago, ugh!

  21. I think that this was easy to see coming. These sites are working hard to set the future standard for what is considered acceptable, and if artists don’t push back, they will be happy to take us for all we’re worth. General public opinion on the morality surrounding image use is being heavily influenced as well by things as simple as facebook’s download button, providing users with a sweeping endorsement to take whatever they want. For all of it’s faults, I am in love with our industry and hate to see her abused.

  22. I don’t understand why all of this energy is used to complain about this subject, when the solution is simple. IF YOU ARE A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER, DO NOT USE THESE SERVICES TO HOST PROFESSIONAL IMAGES. It makes much more sense to PAY for a commerce hosting site such as PhotoShelter or SmugMug to host your images on your own terms, then use sites such as facebook, twitter, etc. to market and announce those images.


    • @Tim, I think most professional photographers here do use other sites/services for which they pay…

      But there’s a great deal of pressure for photographers to have a presence –to promote themselves, to share images, etc.– on the bigger/more popular social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, etc.).

      I think there’s also a difference between “professional images” and informal images/snapshots/outtakes, etc. (I know I make a distinction between the two, even if the difference may only be clear to me in my own head!) ;)

      But even if I were only uploading ‘non-professional’ imagery to sites like Facebook or TwitPic, I still don’t want to grant them any rights to my photos, and I’m still going to begrudge them for claiming/grabbing any. Even if it’s just a silly snapshot of me and my friends at dinner from the night before.

      We may be photographers by profession, but that shouldn’t mean we’re not allowed to be human beings, and take silly/funny/non-professional pictures with our point-and-shoots or our iPhones (or even our ‘real’ cameras). Every image we put out into the world doesn’t have to be a “professional image” (IMHO)…but that doesn’t mean I want to grant someone else rights to use those images. You know…?

      It’s just that we care about these issues more than the average person because we ARE professional photographers.

      • @Cynthia, I agree with you on all points Cynthia. I just don’t understand the bemoanment by professional photographers about these continued contentious TOS’s when we can easily avoid them by just not putting up images of value. That’s my point. Imagine if you will, if there were no more professional quality images on these sites. Prowlers would be forced to look for images elsewhere. These prowlers could have their search efforts satisfied by simple announcements by photographers that they have images on their sites available for license.

        Who is pressuring us to have images on facebook, twitter, etc.? Perhaps these same prowlers who want to have easy access to images that they can grab with TOS’s that avoid paying for the images?

        Again, I totally agree with you that no site should have the ability to just take and use an image without the author’s permission, be it a professional image, or just a vacation snapshot. But, from a professional perspective, why continue to battle with sites that are only interested in serving their own interests by making you feel that it’s some type of privilege for you to be on their site, i.e., if you’re not on twitter or facebook, you don’t exist on the web.

        There are many other ways of doing things than what is currently the status quo. I think that, instead of relying on other sites, as well as image buyers in general, to set standards of how we market ourselves, photographers should take the reins and define how we control our images on the web.

    • @Tim,
      honestly that’s a stupid idea. twitter and facebook are no different than the US mail and email for marketing your work. ignoring them will make you obsolete. you can thank Daniel Morel and other photogs who have the balls to fight when it’s all over…

      • @A Photo Editor, perhaps my tone came off as though I suggest ignoring facebook and twitter. That wasn’t my intention. I realize facebook is important for marketing. I’ve made great contacts via facebook that have been profitable.

        Again, I’m talking about the best ways to use them. Perhaps you overlooked the part of my post about using facebook/twitter to link to your own sites, as opposed to posting images to their sites. I don’t think putting up actual images on these sites is a good idea because of their TOS’s, that might seem ok now, but can change at any time. We’ve seen that happen with facebook in recent memory.

        Rob, I think it’s a far stretch to say that you’d be obsolete without facebook and twitter. I was reading a recent photo buyer survey by Photo Shelter where 67% of buyers surveyed do NOT use social networking sites to find new talent and among those who do, most use Linkedin over both facebook and twitter, http://www.photoshelter.com/mkt/research/photo-buyer-survey.

        • @Tim,
          3 years ago art buyers told me they never looked a blogs either. the problem with the photo shelter survey is they sent it out as a mass email to 55,000 people so the percentages mean nothing. 500 people responded. 67% of what? people who have 30 minutes to spare and enjoy getting surveys sent to them in email. who are the 54,500 people who refused to answer the email and what if they like facebook. what would that percentage look like then?

          Regardless, my point is that ToS’es change and if we participate they might change in our favor.

          • @A Photo Editor, Yeah, I totally agree with you about the small sample size of the survey.

            I don’t pretend to have any answers. In fact, I know that we’re all just trying to figure it out.

  23. I’m surprised the subject of FACEBOOKS’s Terms of Service hasn’t come up yet in this discussion…

    Here they are, if anyone’s interested in a refresher:

    “You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings. In addition:
    For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (‘IP content’), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.”

    I would very much like to know what they mean by “…subject to your privacy and application settings…” (because it’s not very clear to me what that means).

    My personal Facebook profile is pretty locked down; I don’t allow any other/outside apps to access my FB profile, and I only allow my ‘friends’ to see my photos, status updates, links, etc. So would this mean I have or have not granted FB “…a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that [I] post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License)”…??

    Although like many photographers, I also have a separate profile for my photography business on Facebook , and that page is public/viewable by virtually anyone…

    • @Cynthia, I too find it interesting. Facebook must be too intrenched to be scrutinized or perhaps it’s because there’s simply no alternative.

      I too have a personal and business profile. I currently provide links to my content rather than upload it… not sure what level of protection that grants me. I guess we’ll have to wait for the next headline or lawsuit to help sort things out.

  24. Moby is a good choice for another reason. Their service doesn’t turn your images into potential “orphan works” as many other social media and photo sharing sites do. It’s a real shame to see Twitpic take this route as they were one of the others services that do a good job of preserving your embedded photo metadata (like IPTC and Exif).

    For anyone that is interested, we’ve been doing a survey of the various free services and have compiled the results at:
    http://www.controlledvocabulary.com/socialmedia/ or http://j.mp/5hr4Hf

    If you don’t find the service you are considering in the list, please consider running a test and adding your results. Details are included at the link above.


    • @David Riecks, would you mind checking out Picuous and them adding it to your result compilation? We’re an image hosting service which provides an HTML5 widget to place your pictures in. Helps with automatic attribution and tracking :)

    • @Lenn Long, Surely it’s about being given the choice?

  25. I kind of hope this stupid and crass and disingenuous move by Twitpic lays them low. Just to send a message that sensible people DO pay attention to this stuff and such rights grabs could bring a hard pushback. I’ve deleted my TP account (which I wasn’t using yet anyway) and am currently checking out Mobypicture. Which was running a bit slow, could be a sign of high traffic :).

  26. There’s one thing that I find a bit surprising and that’s how there seems to be a lot of you guys that are pro’s that somewhat blindly assume sharing services are going to have ToS’s that you agree with and start uploading content to them without first trying to find out if it is safe for you to do so. I agree with you that sites like these should not claim copyright over your work and it’s an ongoing struggle to have them fix this but you DO have to research this before you get into it. If you discover this later and feel the need to delete your images, you didn’t do your job in the first place.

    On the other hand, some of these agreements seems to be there to protect the site _from their users_ by eliminating the threat of a user suing the site for using their images in normal on-site functions.

    • @john, What about the companies that change the terms of service whilst using the service?

      TwitPic had 11 words when I signed up concerning copyright.
      “All images uploaded are copyright © their respective owners”
      It now hits 940 words, also I am pretty sure they must make people aware that terms of service are changing (not a blog post). ie Apple you must accept them every time they change.

      • @StevenBullen, You’re right, they do sometimes change the agreement and force you to accept it before letting you in.

        Are there any sites that operates on a business model that let’s the users share profit on any opt-in pictures the site manages to sell that also targets the capture-the-moment crowd?

  27. So if someone goes onto my site and grabs a photo (without my permission) and places it on TwitPic, I am screwed!?

    • @Jack English, No, since the TOS say that you have to own the rights to uploaded pictures. Thus the user would have been infringing the TOS and they wouldn’t apply to your picture.

  28. I just blogged about my concerns over a “domino effect” in terms of rights grabbing.

    If Twitpic or anyone else who photographers use as “marketing-oriented storage” can suddenly re-sell our images without paying the copyright holder then what’s to stop a free storage service like Dropbox or Skydrive deciding to do similar….

    More thoughts here:

  29. With many of the providers of hosting services for photographers now offering iPhone and iPad apps to upload images to your own Web site, why even bother with things like TwitPic? Just upload to your own site, then offer a link in Twitter, Facebook, et al? Twitter can try to claim license to anything linked via Twitter, but I’m going to guess they won’t get far if they try — they’ll just find themselves under a mountain of lawsuits.

    As I recall DropBox has some offensive language in their Ts&Cs that basically says anyone who finds one of your images is free to use it. But if you just use DropBox for file transfer, then delete the image once the transfer is complete, the chances of it being found/used would seem rather low — not impossible, but low probability.

  30. “By authorizing this link, you’ll allow Mobypicture to:

    Access your Flickr account (including private content)
    Upload, Edit, and Replace photos and videos in your account
    Interact with other members’ photos and videos (comment, add notes, favorite)
    Mobypicture will not have permission to:

    Delete photos and videos from your account”

    In trying to set up a Mobypicture account, and linking post to other social media, I get this authentication request. What do people make of this? If this has been discussed before, my apologies in advance.

    The best part to me, is that a third party can alter or replace one of my photos, but they are not deleting it.

  31. Be careful with linked portfolios such as http://www.behance.net on Linkedin…..here’s part of Linkedin’s TOS:

    >>Additionally, you grant LinkedIn a nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual, unlimited, assignable, sublicenseable, fully paid up and royalty-free right to us to copy, prepare derivative works of, improve, distribute, publish, remove, retain, add, process, analyze, use and commercialize, in any way now known or in the future discovered, any information you provide, directly or indirectly to LinkedIn, including but not limited to any user generated content, ideas, concepts, techniques or data to the services, you submit to LinkedIn, without any further consent, notice and/or compensation to you or to any third parties. Any information you submit to us is at your own risk of loss as noted in Sections 2 and 3 of this Agreement.<<


  32. Bad, very bad.

  33. Gothamist has a photo attributed to “Twitpic” on a post about Will Smith having a giant trailer in Soho while shooting Men in Black 3. It is unclear if Twitpic licensed it or if Gothamist stole it.

  34. You should check out the service we’re developing with photographers in mind: Picuous. We place your pictures in an embeddable HTML5 widget that allows them to be shared while providing automatic attribution and linkbacks (for traffic). We just launched and we’re looking for feedback so if any of you want to try it out, you’re more than welcome. (It’s 100% free for now, will be freemium later.)

    Our terms of course specify that you are the owner of your content. The reason we might be asking for a little more than others is that you have to grant us the right to allow others to embed your content from your site to their site—hence the sublicense.

    With love!

    • @Martin Pannier,
      I am curious about this new service. Any idea when it will be compatible with WordPress? I would love to try embedding a photo and inserting that photo into my blog.

      • @Jennifer May,
        Our FAQ is outdated, Picuous is now compatible with WordPress. Feel free to try it out and tell me what you think! martin@picuous.com :)

        • @Martin Pannier,

          I am giving your program a try.

          If anyone is interested in seeing how it works, I posted a portrait of actor Mark Ruffalo onto my blog, http://jennifermay.com/blog/. Just try to steal it for your own uses, or re-tweet it or something, and let’s see if the photo links back to my website, as promised.

          Very curious about the possibilities. I do come across my photos on people’s blogs sometimes and even if they give a photo credit, I like the idea of a locked-in site referral and copyright notice even better.


  35. […] has altered its terms of service so that it can gain profit from users’ images (read more here). Meanwhile, you may want to check your Flickr settings, as the photo-sharing site reassures users […]

  36. Rob your quote: “It looks like deleting your Twitpic account and moving to MobyPicture is a good way to do that.”

    What are you the the Jim Cramer of photo sharing?

    Don’t you think people are smart enough to maybe figure that out for themselves?

  37. Check this out: Citizenside.com actively tries to get you published. If your photos or videos are particularly newsworthy, we’ll show them to editors around the world, and licence them on your behalf. Once sold, you get between 50 to 65% of the sum. The other thing is, we are a global news community. Think of it like a Wikipedia for breaking news… We are now launching our new twitter service zuu.li: share and get paid for your photos posted on twitter! And YOU remain the owner of your pictures

  38. Its a pity that these companies do this, seems they all out for a slice of the pie.

  39. […] content against a user’s wishes, even though in some cases they have the power to do that: There was an uproar earlier this year about the terms of use for the Twitpic image-hosting service, for example, which gave the service the right to license the content for commercial purposes […]

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