One thing the seems to plague people on the internet in respect to photography is what happens when you post images on the internet for people to publicly view. This is one question that I have been wondering in regards to Facebook and their Terms when it comes to uploading content (in this example personal photos) to their website to show them to friends and family. I remember when I first signed up with Facebook that you had to agree that anything you uploaded (including photos) become property of Facebook and thus give them full “worldwide” access to do whatever ever they want with your photos. Does this seem right?
Be Careful of What You Share!
I looked through their Terms and came up with the following statement:
When you post User Content to the Site, you authorize and direct us to make such copies thereof as we deem necessary in order to facilitate the posting and storage of the User Content on the Site. By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content. Facebook does not assert any ownership over your User Content; rather, as between us and you, subject to the rights granted to us in these Terms, you retain full ownership of all of your User Content and any intellectual property rights or other proprietary rights associated with your User Content.
Now I might not be a lawyer or I might be reading the above Terms incorrect but to me it sounds like I am giving up any rights I have on my photos I upload to them, essentially passing over ownership of said items to Facebook. If they want to use a photo of mine via one of my (30+) albums they can and they can do whatever they want to do with it and even make money off of them.
Why Does This Bother Me?
When I take photos I like them to be owned by me and not let people do whatever they want with my photos especially make money off of them (be it monetary or traffic etc). If people ask me to use my photos I am more than okay with that as long as they give proper attribution for the photo; if I took the photo, tell people I took it and don’t try to make it seem like you were the person who shot it.
With Facebook I will tend to upload smaller, lower-quality photos (500px wide at 72dpi and medium Jpeg quality) so that if they do go to use a photo it’s not going to be good for print and might be a bit grainy. If you upload your untouched, full sized photo, does Facebook save this somewhere on their server and just show you the resized version? Having the full sized (or original) photo at their disposal if they need it? Remember if they use it, you gave them the right not to give you anything for it.
Should This Bother You?
If you are okay with Facebook owning your uploaded photos then by all means you can ignore this. Do you want Facebook to make (more) money off of your creativity and not thank you?
If this does bother you but you still want to upload your photos to Facebook just ensure what you upload isn’t the original size and that the quality is less than the original photo as well. This will hopefully deter them from selecting a photo of yours to use however they want and not give you credit.
Possible Options That I Will Look Into
I have been using Flickr more and more since I can add licensing information to the photos I upload. What I could look at is the various ‘Applications’ on Facebook that allow your to show your Flickr albums to your friends. This would be a nice option and then Facebook would not have my photos stored on their servers right?
I still want to show my photos on Facebook because there are people on Facebook who do not check Flickr or my blog. Comments on Facebook are nice and I do know Flickr has comment ability as well but the person needs to have an account to leave a comment (less accounts better right?).
So What Does This All Mean?
Well it means I am not sure if I should stop uploading my photos to Facebook all together. I like showing people my photography world and having people comment on them. Facebook does allow me to easily create photo albums and allows for friends and family to give me constructive feedback. The other option I do like is that I can ‘tag’ people in the photos.
Though on the other hand I don’t like to hand over my photos to a company that might use them to make money from them without compensating my time, expenses and whatever other costs that might have happened while taking a photo.
There was some good discussion at the PhotoCamp where if you do worry about your photos being used for purposes not in your control, then don’t upload them. The internet (well web) allows easy access to anything you show publicly. So if you’re not totally paranoid, just create smaller, lesser quality photos to show the world. If someone wants to use a photo for a particular purpose, ensure they need to ask you to obtain a better quality version of it.
What are your thoughts on Facebook and their Terms when it comes to uploading content (specific photos)? Did you know these Terms when you first signed up to Facebook or when you upload photos?
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