Editor’s Notes:  This is a followup article on the new changes that are pending to Facebook that affect photographers (see our original post here).  At Photofocus, we do not offer legal advice and suggest that you consult with professional groups like ASMP or discuss with your own lawyer. Social media terms of service are a huge discussion […]

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Some of you aren’t regular listeners to our podcast.  The changes to Facebook have many concerned, so we excerpted this interview so you can listen to these important opinions. Is the problem real? Yep… even the feds have gotten involved. If you post photos to Facebook, be sure to listen. Photographers are giving up even […]

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This week’s show is a triple scoop of goodness. We’ve got three interviews to satisfy your creative, technical, and business needs. Join hosts Rich Harrington and Melissa Niu for interviews with important thought leaders.

First up, Rich talks with Tamara Lackey who is a professional photographer, speaker, and author. She focusses on lifestyle photography, from children’s portraits to celebrity portraits.

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NOTE: This was cross – posted at GoingPro2010.com Do you actually read the Terms of Service Agreements and EULAs that you sign or click “OK” on? I bet you don’t – but you should. Especially if you are a photographer who worries about people taking your images and profiting by them without your permission or […]

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Copyright 1996 Scott Bourne - All Rights Reserved

Copyright 1996 Scott Bourne - All Rights Reserved

Warning – this is a long piece. If you have no interest in protecting your photos, you may not care to read it.

If you post your photos/videos online via a commercial service like Flickr, Vimeo, SmugMug, YouTube, etc., you are at some point during the sign-up process going to be asked to click a box that says you agree to the site’s “Terms of Service” or TOS. Dollars to doughnuts – if you’re like most people, you’re NOT going to read the stupid thing. You’re just going to click. BAAAAAAAD MOOOOOOOVE!

You could very well be signing away the rights to your work – or at least allowing some unknown third party the ability to profit from it without your input.

Fortunately, (or unfortunately – depending on how you look at such things) I am the kind of person that reads the TOS. I went to law school and while thankfully, have decided not to take a job as an attorney, I can’t help but explore the legal side of things now and then.

When I started posting pictures to commercial online services, I was careful. I started with Flickr, which has a pretty good TOS. But then the Facebook flap happened. They changed their TOS (as these sites often do) and it became clear that while they may have no ill intention, they COULD use photos in a way that made me uncomfortable. I closed my Facebook account. Facebook recently backed up and decided to leave the old TOS in place after community outrage. I am still going to leave my account there closed because I never got much out of it anyway. I think it’s more suited to you “young folk.”

I started examining other site’s TOS more carefully and I must say I was pretty shocked. Most of the commercial sites out there have very broad, very Draconian TOS contracts. Most are so bad I won’t even consider putting my work there, no matter the promise or payoff. But that’s just me. Some photographers will assume it’s worth the risk. I have no problem with that, as long as it’s an informed decision.

This all started really demanding my attention when the Facebook thing happened. But it expanded when I read the TOS at Vimeo. I started my account there quite some time ago and had never taken time to carefully read their TOS. Either they changed it or I just noticed it, but they include a sub-licensing clause, among other things in their TOS that sent me packing. We’re taking all the videos we make for this site off Vimeo and putting them on SmugMug. More on that in another post. Now back to the TOS controversy.

If you spend enough time on the Internet, you’ll realize that every 20 year-old kid on the Twitters considers himself/herself a legal expert. Unfortunately, life is not a video game and this stuff is serious. So I interviewed, (wait for it – wait for it) TWO ACTUAL ATTORNEYS! You know, people who practice law for a living. They have licenses and everything! This article is based on what they had to say about the subject.

Rather than make this about Vimeo, which I don’t want to do, I decided to write this from the perspective of all creatives putting work onto commercial sites. I sent some of the particularly onerous clauses from the TOS of company XXXX. You could insert dozens of company names there. It’s not important. After reading this you should have a better idea of what to look for and you can make up your own mind. If you’re lazy, you can just look at where I put my stuff and generally guess that I think those places have the best TOS.

Let’s start by asking the attorneys, what they think of two clauses I see in many of the TOS contracts online.

First, we’ll ask Denise M. Howell: technology lawyer; blogger and columnist; host of this WEEK in LAW. Continue reading