Beware the photo stealers…

January 26th, 2013

I thought I would pen up this article to help some of you who may not be aware…there are companies out there who want to get free use out of your photos and videos. This may not bother some of you that much…but read on to see what they can do with your work, without even telling you about it!

Part I
First off, we’ll start with the online social media sites…

…I’ll only use an example from the biggest one, but for any social media you use, BE SURE TO CHECK THE TERMS OF USE! Most people can’t be bothered, and unfortunately you could find your stuff taken and used without your permission!

From Facebook Terms of Use: “You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings.”

This is obviously very good. They outright tell you that your content you post on Facebook is owned by you. That means that regardless of whatever else happens with the stuff you post on Facebook, you still own it. Note that some websites do not make that claim (I don’t have examples, but have seen some in the past).

However, it goes on…

“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.”

This statement means that they can use any of your posted material free-of-charge. Some people may not care about that, but let’s say Facebook starts a new ad campaign, finds a really cool photo you posted, and puts it up on billboards across the US. The first you see of it, you recognize YOUR photo on the billboard as you drive past. No reference or credit is given to you. Not only that, but this statement ALSO allows them to license it to anyone who contracts with them to use it. In other words, they get the money to sell your photograph to someone else…not you. You may still own the rights to the photo, but this statement allows them the rights to use it royalty-free.

How do you get around that? Well, you could remove all your work and stop posting on Facebook, but you don’t have to go that far. Watermark (put your name/website/copywrite logo) on your photos. You can still post on Facebook, but now it has your name on it. If they choose to use it (very doubtful), you still get credit! You may not get paid, but nobody can deny it wasn’t yours or miss your website. Free advertising. Also note that their agreement doesn’t allow them to modify your work…so they can’t crop off the watermark.

Always keep an eye on these terms as they change with the social media websites that you may use.

In Part II I’ll go over an even more notorious thief of your work…those who seek to not only use your photos free, but gain the full rights to them from you through a very sneaky tactic…

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