Your photos and social media? Nothing is free

Reading Time: 3 minutes

FlickrThere are some issues with uploading photographs to social media sites.

We tend to forget that nothing is free and trust in what we are given — but have you ever read the terms and conditions of service?

Earlier this year, we heard a good deal about social media photo site Instagram’s changes in service terms and conditions. But what about the others?

Facebook is currently the largest photo-sharing site in the world, but what does their T&C say about the ownership of photographs or other content being uploaded?

Do the copyrights stay with the artist? And why do they strip the EXIF data?

[box color=”grey”]You can find the Facebook terms here

Section 2.1 — “Sharing Your Content and Information” — states:

“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.”[/box]

My understanding is that Facebook has the rights to resell any photographs uploaded to them without authorisation from the owner.

Oddly enough, this doesn’t bother me half as much as the EXIF data is stripped.

You may ask, why? The reason is simple; have you heard of orphan works laws being implemented worldwide?

In short, again from my understanding, is that both in the US and UK at this point – the only two countries I know that currently have orphan works laws – these allow for works where the owner cannot be found after a reasonable effort to be used without remuneration.

I get why this is being done, though define “reasonable”.

So what about Google+?

I tested a few photos a lot of the EXIF data is there including the author as well as the copyrights information. Additionally, the terms and conditions are clear:

[box color=”gray”]Excerpt of paragraph 5 in http://www.google.com/policies/terms/ states:

“Your Content in our Services

Some of our Services allow you to submit content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.

When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps). Some Services may offer you ways to access and remove content that has been provided to that Service. Also, in some of our Services, there are terms or settings that narrow the scope of our use of the content submitted in those Services. Make sure you have the necessary rights to grant us this license for any content that you submit to our Services.”[/box]

It’s better, but the fact that they do not eradicate contain you delete and the fact that it’s a free service that may change its T&C at any time concerns me too.

Moral of the story?

Read the Terms and Conditions before using any services.

For photography in the free world Google+ and now Flickr is compelling because they are generating money from advertising as a business model.

My choice tough will remain paid services like Flickr and 500px; there are other popular ones, but they get really expensive.

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