Twitpic T&Cs spark teacup storm
Your pics are our pics: so what's new?
Twitpic has sparked outrage among the Twitter user community by changing its terms and conditions.
Sometime early in May, the photo-sharing site replaced its broad (and ill-defined) copyright statement with a new, more detailed policy.
Formerly, the heart of Twitpic’s copyright was a single sentence: “By uploading your photos to Twitpic you give Twitpic permission to use or distribute your photos on Twitpic.com or affiliated sites.” [Our emphasis in italics - El Reg.]
The new policy adds a lot of detail, and has been interpreted as turning Twitpic into yet another outfit that crowd-sources free content that it can then onsell at a profit. The key items are:
“To publish another Twitpic user’s content for any commercial purpose or for distribution beyond the acceptable Twitter "retweet" which links back to the original user’s 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.”
A million sharp-eyed bush lawyers note that this means if someone wants to re-use something from Twitpic in, for example, a newspaper, they need to ask Twitpic, but not the original poster.
The second is this:
“…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.”
In other words, Twitpic can do what it likes, including editing, with posted photos without asking the original owner’s permission.
The reaction has probably taught Twitpic – and other photo-sharing services who are probably looking at their own T&Cs, for reasons I’ll discuss in a moment – a valuable lesson. If you’re going to change the terms of service, don’t try to do it on the quiet. And make sure you’re willing to explain your reasons in public, rather than have others explain it for you.
Next page: From broad to narrow
Flickr doesn't have such terms with regards to photos (text is a different matter): to quote:
"(b) With respect to Content you elect to post for inclusion in publicly accessible areas of Yahoo! Groups or that consists of photos or other graphics you elect to post to any other publicly accessible area of the Services, you grant Yahoo! a world-wide, royalty free and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, modify, adapt and publish such Content on the Services solely for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting the specific Yahoo! Group to which such Content was submitted, or, in the case of photos or graphics, solely for the purpose for which such photo or graphic was submitted to the Services. This licence exists only for as long as you elect to continue to include such Content on the Services and shall be terminated at the time you delete such Content from the Services." from Yahoo ToS.
Imageshack.us is even more clear:
"he content that you distribute through the ImageShack Network is owned by you, and you give ImageShack permission to display and distribute said content exclusively on the ImageShack Network.
You may revoke this permission at any time by requesting your content to be removed. Such requests will be processed within a maximum period of 24 hours (but usually as short as one hour). You may request deletion and/or mark your content private through our sites' user interfaces, or by contacting ImageShack directly. After your request is processed, ImageShack will cease distribution of your content within a maximum period of 24 hours (but usually as short as one hour) and will absolve itself of any ownership of said content, implied or otherwise.
ImageShack will not sell or distribute your content to third parties or affiliates without your permission. Third parties may exercise the following options regarding your content:
Third parties may hyperlink to the page that displays your content on the ImageShack Network without modification and with proper attribution to you.
Third parties may request permission to use your content by contacting you directly.
All requests for permission regarding your content usage directed at ImageShack will be forwarded to you. All uploaded content is copyrighted to its respective owners. ImageShack directs full legal responsibility of said content to their respective owners. All content generated by ImageShack is copyrighted by ImageShack. ImageShack is not responsible for any uploaded content, nor is it in affiliation with any entities that may be represented in the uploaded content"
Twitrpix ToS allow them to do more or less what they want with the content, but only on their site and the agreement terminates as soon as you remove the pic.
So, it seems that only twitpic, twitgoo and posterous are claiming rights to use the photos outside even after one removes it from service. Please check your facts - twitpic is in a minority here and all such services deserve to be ostracized by the users.
This story was done and dusted 3 weeks ago.
And I support the 'stuck in a time loop' statement, by submitting this story in... TIME magazine, about it, from May 11th entitled "Twitpic Says Sorry for Copyright Confusion" http://techland.time.com/2011/05/11/twitpic-says-sorry-for-copyright-confusion/
The original "...permission to use or distribute..." seem reasonable and have the sense of loaning use to Twitpic for its purposes. The new conditions lay claim to the pics and are therefore way over the top. The gits need jumping on.