Facebook: Rights vs. Business

Recently Facebook was in the news over a change to its terms of service. Specifically, Facebook removed a clause that explicitly stated that their license to display and use content would expire if a user removed their content from the service*.

Photographers have a dilemma when it comes to using Facebook to promote their business. Facebook is a major social network, and having a presence on Facebook is a good marketing move to increase exposure to a wide audience. On the other hand, even after the recent public outcry over Facebook’s terms, the content licensing terms continue to give Facebook a non-exclusive license to use uploaded content in any form they choose, including resale, creating derivative works, and displaying the content outside Facebook.

This becomes a dilemma when one considers things such as uploading portfolio images. Displaying your work for potential clients = good. Giving Facebook the rights to do anything they want with your work = bad.

I made the choice to leave Facebook, at least until they move to more reasonable licensing. Other photographers love Facebook. It’s a personal choice, but one should know what is at stake.

Last week, I gave a presentation at Ignite Portland giving a quick overview of social media, social networks, and content licensing:

* I was actually the first to blog about the expiration clause being removed. See Facebook Terms of Service Change: Content is now Licensed Forever which was a followup to Facebook’s Rights Grab: I’m Out on another one of my blogs.

Revised Photoshop Express Terms: Better, But Still Disconcerting

Responding to the public outcry over the breadth of licensing conditions in Adobe’s original license for Photoshop Express (previous blog post), Adobe has posted a new Terms of Use Agreement to take effect on April 10th. They removed the part of the license agreement which drew the most ire; users no longer give Adobe the rights to use the images for any purpose whatsoever.

The new terms contain an interesting section about rights given to other users. Take a look at sections 6 and 7… here’s an excerpt:

You hereby grant Other Users a worldwide (because the internet is global), royalty-free (meaning that Other Users do not owe you any money), nonexclusive (meaning you are free to license Your Content to others) license to view, download, print, distribute, publicly perform and publicly display Your Shared Content subject to the limitations in Section 7.

It’s no longer a rights grab by Adobe, but posting any material for viewing apparently lets anyone use your content for any number of purposes. Again, it’s not a license I can agree with for my work.

If you want any sort of control over your work, take a few minutes and read the terms for any services used. Caveat emptor.

Adobe’s Photoshop Express Means Giving Adobe Your Photos

Last night Adobe released a free, web-based photo editor called Photoshop Express (which despite it’s name really isn’t anything like Photoshop). I tried it out, it’s not a bad online editor, but based on a tip from someone else today I decided to look at their Terms of Service:

8. Use of Your Content.

1. Adobe does not claim ownership of Your Content. However, with respect to Your Content that you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Services, you grant Adobe a worldwide, royalty-free, nonexclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, and fully sublicensable license to use, distribute, derive revenue or other remuneration from, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform and publicly display such Content (in whole or in part) and to incorporate such Content into other Materials or works in any format or medium now known or later developed.

Whoa. What that means is that if you use their service and put any of your photos into a public gallery, you’ve given Adobe a no-restrictions license to do anything they want with your photos.

Not cool, Adobe. Not cool at all.

update 3/27 21:13 – see comments