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I am a member of ASMP (the American Society of Media Photographers).  They recently sent a useful update about a change to Facebook’s Terms of Service.  The use of social media is always a balance between effective promotion and sacrificing your rights as an image maker.

ASMP advises strongly evaluating the new changes:

The new Facebook Terms of Use have been modified to allow the company to sell virtually anything that is uploaded to the service, including all your photos, your identity and your data. Facebook has also explicitly removed the privacy protection from the commercialization rights. This means that any photos uploaded to Facebook may be sold, distributed or otherwise commercialized with no compensation to the photographer.

Here’s a summary of the changes that ASMP has tracked. Here’s the most important language. (Strikethrough indicates language that is being removed. Bold text is used to indicate the new additions.)

You can use your privacy settings to limit how your name and profile picture may be associated with commercial, sponsored, or related content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us. You give us permission to use your name, and profile picture, content, and information in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related that content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us, subject to the limits you placeThis means, for example, that you permit a business or other entity to pay us to display your name and/or profile picture with your content or information, without any compensation to you. If you have selected a specific audience for your content or information, we will respect your choice when we use it.

 UMM… WOW!

If you wish to provide feedback to the company, you can contact them here.

ASMP says it will continue to pressure Facebook to modify the terms of use to be more favorable to photographers.

Click here to go to a Q&A on this subject.

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Join the conversation! 78 Comments

  1. Thanks for the heads up on this. As a constructive suggestion, and the idea wasn’t mine, rather than post pictures on FB. Post a link to your web site with the picture. FB T&Cs shouldn’t apply to links to a web page, and you have a lot more control over the content.

    Reply
  2. Thanks for posting this. As a commercial photographer, I strongly disagree with Facebook’s policy regarding the sale of images to third parties without compensating the creator. I will not be posting any photographs on FB as long as this policy is in force.

    Reply
  3. Bad, bad Facebook. Like photographers don’t have enough people already trying to steal their photos, now we have to worry about what we post on Facebook and how it might be stolen for them to use for their own profits.

    Reply
  4. A-holes! So what if we “post” (upload) the image to another service, (Smugmug, 500px, Flickr, etc) and then simply provide a “link” to the image in our FB posts. Is there a distinction there? I’ll be looking forward to the first class action lawsuit against FB by a photographer. The case may not be won but it will certainly bring to light FB’s evil, greedy intentions.

    Reply
    • I am currently posting to facebook from my smugmug website and I hope there is no way they can use my images…and if there is I`m washing my hands of facebook!! They can just kiss my ass goodbye!!

      Reply
    • Note that if you use the integration from 500px, each time you post an image to 500px the image will also be uploaded to a facebook album. So just in case you are using 500px, do not use the automatic integration, but post the link to the 500px page manually.

      Reply
  5. This is disgusting. Does the same apply to Instagram since FB owns Instagram?

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  6. I strongly disagree with this policy regarding sales of images. How dare you.

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  7. And that is one of the reasons I departed the Book of Faces over a year ago.. thanks for sharing for those still swimming in those waters!

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  8. Horrible! Can you please post the links to the specific pages you’re referring to? I couldn’t find them in the muddle of FB terms and mumbo jumbo…..

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  9. I think a NEW social Media page should be created WITH PRIVACY! Thank you for posting this and as much as I love posting my Amateur but pretty photos, I might start rethinking it….I would like to share this as I think ALL facebook users should and maybe a rebellion of some sorts is in order…..

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  10. It is a rotten idea and I think a court of law will protect the photographer for anythIng they posted BEFORE THIS ADMISSION.

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  11. Thanks for the heads up guys. I just posted on Facebook my stance now not to post my better photos (crappy snaps I do not care about) but use my 500px and Flickr accounts more. As I said in my rant “I will never be a world famous photographer and/or make money out of my photos; but I do not believe that someone else should without at least giving some compensation either.” It is a pity they have lowered themselves to this level, I have many friends in South East Asia that only use Facebook and love looking at my Australian Landscape photos; now they can’t. Hopefully the other social networks see the negative reaction and do not make the same changes.

    Reply
  12. This appears to be the same thing that happened with Google+ and Instagram last year. After a significant amount of pressure from photographers and graphic designers, Google+ and Instagram agreed that they would revise their TOS to protect copyrighted images, but it took a mass exodus of followers and Instagram is still suffering from the fallout by not getting their previously loyal users back. This is exactly why 500px, ViewBug, deviantArt, etc. do so well for photo sharing.

    Reply
  13. does this apply to Australia which has different copyright laws and copyright is automatic you dont have to apply for it

    Reply
  14. Every time Facebook changes their policy, posts like this show up. And then Facebook reiterates that it’s for you on their website (which they’ve been doing for years). If they were selling photographers (or amateurs) photos to outside sources, I think you’d be hearing about it.

    Reply
  15. How about this line? “If you have selected a specific audience for your content or information, we will respect your choice when we use it.”

    This should mean that if I set the content to be displayed only to friends they should only use it that way, right?

    Reply
  16. Ah Facebook, I’m glad I never really trusted you enough to put much up there.

    Reply
  17. If we remove all our photographs, can they still use them? I got this reply on my page when I posted I would be removing them: “Removing them won’t make a difference, everyfile is saved to a photi database that facebook keeps forever”

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  18. While I don’t agree with Facebook at all and think it’s a rotten deal, I’m not sure I understand the implications for my portrait studio. In addition to modifying the metadata on all of our images, we upload low-res images that have been heavily watermarked and contains an info bar that has our studio name and Web address right in the middle of the image. Why would anyone use those? Wouldn’t they be advertising for us if they stole them?

    Reply
  19. watermark like CRAZY!!!!!

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  20. wont be posting important photos anymore

    Reply
  21. […] up, we dig deep into the recent Facebook controversy. Photographers are giving up even more rights by posting to the social network.  We went straight […]

    Reply
  22. The whole point with Facebook is that the FB users are quite comfortably with clicking like all over the place as long as they see a picture alongside the post. If there is a link to some other place, the amount of like-clicking decreases a lot. This is just an amateur analysis by me from looking at my statistics from my own FB page.
    But i think it´s pretty accurate.

    Reply
    • We’re not arguing that liking works that way… but listen to the podcast to understand the issues at hands with your rights. Its your choice if you want to give them up… I post some of my pictures (but most of the time I go through third party services like 500 px).

      Reply
  23. Double edge sword though isn’t it? While the first thought is immediate outrage that they could use and sell without compensation, you also have to consider the extra exposure FB can give you to new client bases. Just look at your stats. When people “like” and/or share your photo, the views and exposure goes through the roof. Just upload a lower print quality and watermark it. And like a previous post said, post a link from your website instead. :)

    Reply
  24. I most certainly will be placing my copyright across my entire photo when I upload them and keeping them at a very low dpi! They aren’t getting my hard work for free.

    Reply
  25. well i think it’s pretty damn simple people. If you MUST update your followers and facebook-ies that you have new photos to share, post a link that GOES AWAY OFF FROM FACEBOOK to an external site that hosts your images. I doubt Facebook can get you for posting a link which no physical evidence of the photo..

    Reply
  26. Won’t watermarking the images prevent this? I can’t imagine anyone buying watermarked images. I’m not the best at remembering to do so, but maybe this will make me remember :)

    Reply
  27. Does this rule apply to all the photographs uploaded before this terms has changed?

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  28. Also how about just putting your watermark across your pic so it’s viewable but not useable to third parties.

    Reply
  29. Who is going to pay for horribly compressed low-resolution photos? This is not something to actually be worried about. Carry on using FB as the best free advertising any of us could ever hope for.

    Reply
  30. Does this affect personal accounts as well? everything on my personal page is set to private & friends only…..

    Reply
  31. […] I was perusing my news feed when I saw this post shared by my cousin Ian. It tipped me off to and summarizes said changes, and I thought I’d […]

    Reply
  32. Copyright laws as they stand should not allow FB to just make a blanket statement and sell images of copyrighted material. If you register your images through the Library of Congress, and you put the symbol on any photos you show, it’s FB against you in court. If the courts rule against you then copyright essentially means nothing. Just my opinion.

    Reply
    • Jeff… you are missing the point of terms of service. You can hold copyright, but you’ve granted Facebook a sub-licensable and unlimited license. Listen to the podcast we posted yesterday and the lawyers opinions.

      Reply
  33. That’s why I watermark all my pics, even my personal family pics. I don’t think they can take the watermark off without getting into trouble…

    Reply
  34. […] be sold, distributed or otherwise commercialized with no compensation to the photographer. Sauce: Facebook Changes Terms of Service Lai lai share chio bu xmm photo liao. Moi +1 […]

    Reply
  35. It’s INSANE that FB can do this to previously posted pics that were posted under different TOS!!! We posted pictures, watermark or not, to limited audiences, based on copyright laws, and if FB wants to change the TOS, so be it, but retro??? I don’t think so! And if we remove those previously posted pics, they STILL have them in their files and can STILL sell them? I, too, will be watching for the first class action suit against FB. And I will no longer be posting any photography, only links to my work posted on protected sites.

    Reply
  36. […] Due to new Facebook rules regarding image sharing, sneak peeks will now be posted on the blog, and I’ll still try to share the links on my Facebook Page. I hope in this way I can better protect my clients and their images. If you’re curious about these changes, feel free to read this article HERE. […]

    Reply
  37. You know, I made a comment when I reposted this to my facebook, “I guess I need to start putting the Mickey Mouse logo on all my Photos – just to see what FB does when the Disney lawyers find out..”
    The sad thing, is the more I think about it, the better the idea seems. Disney wouldn’t have any beef with ME..

    Reply
  38. Can’t believe how many images I’ve posted on FB without knowing they could be sold by FB…mind you, if I knew someone was willing to buy them,a nd FB told me, perhaps I wouldn’t mind so much. It would give me a little boost to start selling them myself and NEVER post them on FB

    Reply
  39. Richard. stormy asked if this affects personal accounts as well or is it just people advertising

    Reply
  40. Just my point of view:

    1. In my understanding, Facebook was created with the intention of it being a social site, which means whatever is posted, will be available to anyone anywhere,
    2. If you are scared that something you post, say or share on facebook, will be made available to anyone, anywhere – don’t post it or even better, don’t use Facebook.
    3. I am myself an amateur photographer and I don’t upload, post or share any images I care about. It is my work – why should I allow anyone to use/abuse it!
    4. When I do share/post an image on Facebook, I do it with the understanding that it will be made available to the world wide web, or that someone, somewhere will have the audacity to use/abuse/copy/distribute that image without my permission.
    5. IF YOU CARE ABOUT YOUR WORK AS A PHOTOGRAPHER, DON’T USE FACEBOOK!! PERIOD!! There are other ways available to advertise your work as a photographer. Facebook is definitely not the only way and definitely not the safest way!

    Albert

    Reply
  41. There are lots of opinions voiced here. Please note that anyone who shares their opinion may or may not be right. This is a legal issue. Nothing here – posted by Photofocus staff or any comment here represents a substitution for consulting with a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction. I see some misinformation here so please be careful when making decisions based on comments from folks on the Internet. Consult a real lawyer to be sure.

    Reply
  42. Facebook is just one of a line of organisations that are doing this…. Deviantart also claim right of licence as do others…

    I guess this is just an example of of the seedy side of modern business… Individuals who dream up such practices have little or no sense of what is right…. just what they can get away with. So, what can we do about it? Two things… one stop using their services and if that is not practical, get imaginative as to how we can watermark our work (NOT be using metadata I hasten to add) so that it if our work is stolen, then the name remains and with it, some indication as to the true owner…

    Reply
  43. Here is a thought: if someone posted your (supposedly great masterpiece) photos onto Facebook without your permission. In ordinary world, you can ask the poster to take down the photos without your written consent. But now, posted on facebook, will FB reply “Sorry that someone stole your photos without consent, but our company policy/TOS specifically states that anything posted onto our server is ours. You may sue the original poster for all we care.” And thus, you are doomed?!?!

    Reply
  44. When we make up a cardboard box and, for argument’s sake, put a mouse inside it, that mouse is bound by whatever terms and conditions we build into the box. The mouse is restricted in what it can do. We, the boxmakers, on the other hand, can come and go from the box at will.

    Reply
  45. OK, I’ve read all this stuff and listened to the pod casts… Which leads me to the question, Have you or anyone you know (I mean really know ) had an image used, sold, or “stolen” by Facebook and if so, how was it used?

    I’m not on FB but have been told repeatedly by well connected friends in the art community that I NEED to be on FB to market my images and sell some art! I’m not looking to shoot for hire, I want to sell prints, etc.

    Yesterday I shared a link to my Flickr page with a local mountain bike race I shot a few photos at and got over 50,000 views on Flickr! My previous high day was a mere 6000. Granted, I haven’t sold a print yet but I did get an invite to be the “Photo of the Day” on a local magazine’s web site and started a dialog about using one of my images in their print edition.

    Looks like good marketing to me! But, again, who has had their images used and abused by Facebook?

    Reply
  46. […] in me can’t help the desire to merely mention Facebook’s and Instagram’s Terms of Use on photographs on their sites.  I’m sure you are aware of it by now, if not maybe have a […]

    Reply
  47. I enjoy what you guys tend to be up too. This sort of clever work and coverage!
    Keep up the excellent works guys I’ve incorporated you guys
    to blogroll.

    Reply
  48. If this is true then I will be shutting FB down and restarting with no pictures.

    Reply

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About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Lynda.com. Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.

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