Sunday, May 22, 2011

Changing the Rules in the Middle of the Game?! TwitPic Crosses the Line.

For over two years, I have been using Twitter to share my photos with the world. It brings me great satisfaction to be able to "Tweet" a photo and have it instantly available for the world to see. Since the beginning, I have used Twitpic to post images. It works with Twitter for iPhone and is easy to use via web browser as well. I have close to 1000 images on TwitPic.

Last week, I posted my last image to Twitpic. This is because I was made aware of a huge change in their TOS (Terms of Service).

You retain all ownership rights to Content uploaded to Twitpic. However, by submitting Content to Twitpic, you hereby grant Twitpic a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service and Twitpic's (and its successors' and affiliates') business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels. 
 If you read carefully, you will see that Twitpic is now claiming that by uploading your photo to their service, you give them permission to sell your photos to third parties without any compensation to you! WHAT?!!! Who in their right mind would agree to this? What is most disturbing is that this change was made without any official notification to me nor was I given the opportunity to opt out. From a legal standpoint, I believe that if I discover any of my images that were uploaded before this change went into affect were sold for profit, I will have legal grounds to sue them. I never agreed to those terms- and I never will!

Twitpic has made plenty of money off the advertising on each page with a photo you view, now they are getting greedy. This is not only happening with Twitpic, but also with Plixi (now known as Lockerz) and most all other picture sites for Twitter. This is alarming!

NEVER GIVE AWAY RIGHTS for others to make money off YOUR Photos- EVER! If there is no compensation to you, then don't allow sites like Twitpic to sell your images. Lockerz approach is slightly different, they will give you "points" for each picture that is sold- Yawn. yFrog has another approach. They state they will never sell your photos without your permission. All requests will be forwarded to you.

All requests for permission regarding your content usage directed at ImageShack will be forwarded to you. All uploaded content is copyrighted to its respective owners. ImageShack directs full legal responsibility of said content to their respective owners. All content generated by ImageShack is copyrighted by ImageShack. ImageShack is not responsible for any uploaded content, nor is it in affiliation with any entities that may be represented in the uploaded content.
In my opinion, the Best place to post your photos is: MobyPicture. They have a very straightforward policy on content posted. They will never sell them! They do collect data, but that is it.

Content Ownership

All rights of uploaded content by our users remain the property of our users and those rights can in no means be sold or used in a commercial way by Mobypicture or affiliated third party partners without consent from the user.
This is why ALL my Twitter image posts will be done through MobyPicture in the future. It is available as an option via Twitter apps for iPhone and Android and also on TweetDeck and Twitter for Mac. I highly recommend you stop using Twitpic and tell them why.

Update: If you are a celebrity or sports star, you might be able to use
They provide a unique service for celebrity posts. You need to apply for an invitation.

Lastly, if you are posting images, it is always a very good idea to add a watermark to them. It basically tags your photos with your name and © and lets everyone know that it's your image. There is a saying in the photo biz, "once it's created it's copyrighted". In a way that is true, you do not have to file paperwork with the US Copyright office to claim copyright on your photos, you do need to file if you want full protection under the law. You are limited in the amount you can claim if your images are not registered with the US Copyright offices, but your images are yours. If someone steals them and you can prove it, you can sue for damages. If your image has a watermark with your © on it and they remove it or crop it off the photo without permission then that is copyright infringement and you have a much stronger case.

How do I add a watermark? Well, if you have an iPhone, you can use an app. called Impression. It allows you to add text to your photos before you post them. It is $1.99! You can also do this with your photo program on your Mac or PC. There is a program for Mac/PC and iPhone/iPad called iWatermark. It allows you to add text/copyright to your photos. Just add text that says ©2011 (Your Name). This is all you need to do. I recommend you do this to all the photos you post to the public on Facebook, Twitter or on your web site. That way, no one can repost without your permission. If they do, at least people know where it came from.

To conclude, don't let sites like Twitpic profit from your images. Read the TOS before your post your images to any site. Protect your copyrights.  Always add a watermark with your name and © to all images you post for public viewing!