This is a co-written article by Scott Bourne and Richard Harrington.

At Photofocus, we try to keep an eye on how our photos get used.  Social media has changed the landscape for photographers. We try to spot uses that we think need to be pointed out the the photographic community.

Google+ is following Facebook’s footsteps and using the content you post – including photographs – to sell advertiser’s products. Google+ has no intent of sharing that revenue with you. The policy is rolling out now and is expected to be fully implemented by November 11. The big part to be concerned about is the section on Shared Endorsements.

If you are using Google+ and you love it – this may be okay with you. After all, Google is giving you free use of a social media platform and in return they are profiting from your content. Amateur photographers using this platform have virtually nothing to fear in the way of negative consequences from such a move.

Google+ is very popular with photographers. Before you lash out at us, and accuse us of attacking G+, realize we both have accounts and participate in our Photofocus community.  We raise this because some people feel that this policy change is unfair.  We must admit we’re not cray bout it either.

But there is GOOD NEWS.  Google+ had made it possible to OPT OUT of this program. Finding out how isn’t particularly easy. But this link works (as of this writing) to opt in or out of the program.  Uncheck the box near the bottom of the page labeled “Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads.”

If you’re a professional photographer (or want to be) you need to pay attention to this for the following reasons…

  1. If you post pictures on Google+ you can never sell an “exclusive license” to any other party because the image has already appeared on the Web via Google+. This is important because an exclusive license will usually bring in 10 times the money that a non-exclusive license will bring.
  2. Some publications won’t accept ANY photograph that’s already been published online under any circumstances.
  3. Images that are already under exclusive license, and then shared on Google+, and then used in the Google+ Shared Endorsement program will violate the terms of the license. This will potentially leave the photographer open to damaging lawsuits.

This new program will impact a  small portion of our readers. But we still feel the need to explain the possible ramifications. And if you opt-out, there is no problem.

How you proceed is up to you – but at least you now know the deal. To recap:

  • If you have professional needs for your images, opt out (and consider not posting them).
  • If you are working towards being a professional, consider opting out.
  • If you don’t want a company profiting of your images and using them to sell stuff… opt out.

Disclaimer: This article is about preserving photographers rights, not attacking Google+.  We commend Google for providing the option to opt out (unlike other popular social networks).  


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Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. Thanks for the heads up. I’m fairly new to G+ but I can see a trend towards endorsements where they claim I like something because I once +1d a post that business owner made. I followed your link and could only find a tick box for Google using my profile picture (currently a slightly over weight middle aged balding man) They are welcome to that shot. I’m not sure they can use my ‘artistic’ content without my permission. I un ticked the box anyway just in case. Google want to rule the world and nearly do already. It’s hard to keep up with it all and posts like this are a great help. Thanks.

    • @Damien they can indeed use your “artistic” content because if you had failed to uncheck that box your permission would have been assumed. This is why it’s important we alert people to what’s happening. To be clear, if you don’t uncheck that box YOU ARE GIVING THEM PERMISSION. There’s no two ways about it. Most people won’t mind. Professional shooters, especially those who engage in licensing agreements need to be more careful.

  2. THANK YOU, took action right away.

    Regards and best wishes to the Photofocus Staff


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