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WARNING: Twitter Owns your Photos! Read the fine print

Topic: WorkingPoint News | Comments (2)

Posted on October 18, 2010 by admin

Today I was briefly glancing at my beloved Twitter feed when I happened to see a provocative tweet by one of the world’s preeminent experts on New Media, Brian Solis.

The tweet linked to this article “Twitter can do WHAT with your photos?” from the¬† Combined Arms Research Library Blog. The article goes on to explain that in addition to all those great new features being introduced with the New Twitter there have been some changes to Twitter’s Terms of Use.

Apparently, if you share photos on Twitter, Twitter owns them. And can do whatever they want with them. Including sell them to advertisers or the AP. The person who shared them, would¬† of course get nothing…

As Carl from the Combined Arms Research Library Blog puts it:

Check out Twitter’s Terms of Use. It’s OK, we’re librarians, we know no one actually reads words any more. Here’re the juicy parts:

By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).

OH WAIT. THEY GET TO USE MY STUFF FOR FREE? What if I don’t want photographs of Aunt Edna’s 80th birthday party used commercially? I mean, I was wearing a very ugly hat that day, and I had stains on my shirt.

But wait, there’s more!
You agree that this license includes the right for Twitter to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with Twitter for the syndication, broadcast, distribution or publication of such Content on other media and services, subject to our terms and conditions for such Content use.

THEY CAN SELL IT TO THIRD PARTIES, LIKE THE AP, AND I GET NO REMUNERATION, BUT TWITTER DOES? So, like, if I just so happen to be at a major event, snap some pictures as it unfolds, and Tweet them from my phone for my friends to see, they could end up being sold to CNN or the Associated Press, and SOMEONE makes money off of my good luck (or hard work) and it’s not me? This is really going to mess up my job as a freelance artist/photographer!

I’m a huge advocate for the use of Social Media, but I don’t like the idea that by choosing this medium to share I give up my rights to that content. Facebook tried to do the same thing in 2009, and was met with a firestorm of controversy which began with this post from the Consumerist. Facebook responded and eventually decided to reverse the decision and ownership terms.

Now Twitter is attempting to do the same thing, will they face the same heavy criticism? This article is the first I have heard of the new terms of use, but it feels alot like the tip of the iceberg. The subject of copyright ownership of uploaded material is a big one, and users of Social Media need to be aware of the terms they sign on for to protect themselves.

How do you feel about the Twitter Ownership Policy? Help us to spread the word about the fine print!